My last article (link) was about my belief that ‘relax’ is the most important word in all of spirituality. Why? Because if we aren’t relaxed it’s difficult to do most anything in the spiritual arena like meditating, practicing mindfulness and not exploding at our spouse when they infuriate us.
I like writing about single words or phrases we can go to for help in different life situations. I’ve written articles about ‘notice,’ ‘heart open,’ ‘Don’t touch it,’ and ‘Flow with life,’ among others.
Why do I do this? Because I find it helpful to have something easy to remember at my fingertips when life gets crazy.
Another one of these “shorties” occurred to me a few days ago:
Get out of the way.
I love this one. Though I’m sure 99 percent of you know what that means, I’ll spell it out: When the ego rears its ugly head, get it out of the way.
What should I do with my life?
This works on matters both macro and micro. On the macro front I use it with the ever-present question of, “What should I be doing with my life?” I don’t know about you, but for decades I (my ego) was at the helm of the steering wheel on this one.
That manifested as “What can I do that will make me look successful in the eyes of society? Climb the power ladder in Washington, D.C.? YES! Rise through the writing ranks in Hollywood so I can make a boatload of money and be the envy of my peers? Yes, sir.”
I’m now in the third act of my career, which has been writing about spiritual matters these past four years. And yes, the whole game of “What’s next for me?” does cross my mind, especially lately.
How the old me would’ve handled today
The me of those Washington and Hollywood days would approach this with thoughts of, “How can I maximize everything? Make the most money. Gain the widest audience. It’s time to branch into YouTube videos, Twitter and Instagram” and so on.
But I’m not doing that this time. What I am doing is getting out of the way. I say it a lot.
“So,” you might be asking, “if you’re getting out of the way, who or what is going to determine your path?”
The Universe, that’s who.
I’m focused on doing my best work possible and then letting it go, as it says in chapter 24 of the Tao te Ching:
“If you want to accord with the Tao, just do your job, then let go.”
I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy for someone with my past to ‘get out of the way’ when it comes to this career stuff. But I’m doing it. And I’m trusting it. So far, so good.
Micro petty examples where this works
On the micro/smaller scale of life where this comes in handy are what I call the daily petty annoyances that our egos love to bitch and moan about.
Like what? Here’s a quintessential example that happened to me about four hours ago. I was on my midday bike workout ride. I’m on the sidewalk, where most cyclists ride on this street, and turn right on Dover Road (in Newport Beach)…to find fifteen elderly folks riding towards me on E-bikes. It was mayhem.
Dodging geezer bikers
They weren’t doing anything wrong. It was just annoying that I had to dodge a posse of geriatric E-bikers. My petty, complaining, annoyed ego perked up and was about to do the proverbial roll of the eyes and sigh routine when I caught myself…and said ‘get out of the way.’ Not the bikers! My petty ego. And that’s what I did.
This sounds like a little incident, and it is. But think about how much residual angst we’d save ourselves if we went to ‘get out of the way’ in ten more annoying/petty situations in our day. Every day. For months. Years. It would make an enormous difference in our lives.
Some other examples?
-You feel like someone’s jerking you around in scheduling a lunch and it sets your petty alarm off…Get out of the way.
-Somebody didn’t respond to an important email all day and you feel your nose start to get out of joint…Get out of the way.
-At school drop-off, a mom seemed to go out of her way to avoid saying hello to you and it irked you…Get out of the way.
Remember, YOU are not your ego
It’s important to emphasize that in every one of these scenarios it is not you who is getting irked. It’s your ego. And you are NOT your ego. You are the conscious awareness that notices that your ego has been poked. A sizable chunk of spiritual growth depends on understanding and acknowledging this paragraph.
Of course, you could also use ‘relax’ in most of these situations as I wrote about a few days ago. Or ‘Don’t touch it.’ Or others.
But that’s why I write these things. Because different words, phrases and concepts resonate more for some than others.
So I hope you’ll choose the one or ones that appeal to you and use them. It’s all about adding as many arrows to your spiritual quiver as possible.