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Beautifully Broken Things


In preparation for a "Soul Workshop," that I am presenting in a couple of weeks, my mind has been flooded with thoughts of ego and soul. I always knew that this was a complicated topic, but I never realized that everyone had their own definitions of these two entities. Add to that the fact that psychology, religion, and philosophy all claim their respective meanings, and this discussion is enough to make heads spin.

But then, in comes Dave to make it alright. This morning, I saw a quote from the wise frontman. Referencing the meaning of the title, "Away From The World," he remarked, "It kind of is suggesting that all of us are sort of removed from the world, in a way, in our minds. That we're all in the same boat, even though we're sort of locked in our own heads." Way to go, Dave. You just described the predicament of the ego.

Now, you could say that I'm just seeing ego examples everywhere due to the old, think it-see it rationale. Admittedly, I read an article showcasing the differences between bunnies and hares and I saw the ego/soul distinction between the lines. But here, it really seems that Dave is lamenting the isolating state of the ego, who believes that he is separate, alone, and away from the world.

Last weekend, I was feeling crafty, so I made the image above. This is how I see what's going on. There you can see the ego, who believes that everything is all about her, and the soul, who is part of a much larger network where everyone and everything is connected. The place where the two circles intersect shows a person who is in a state of peaceful alignment. I believe that we all have moments like this, where everything seems so right. The problem is, that the ego wants to feel like that all the time, only this is not possible.

Despite the shortcomings of our egos, it's important not to undermine their function. Many new age texts urge us to drop our egos entirely, when this would be like losing our legs. We need the ego to help us stay grounded and in reality. Otherwise, we would not be able to function on this plane. Yes, we are souls living as humans, but in order to sustain this human life, we need a way to put one foot in front of the other.

How, then, can we reconcile the differences between ego and soul? How can we live a connected, mindful life, where we understand that separateness is an illusion, but that we must live as if it were not?

I have no idea. The best that I can come up with is that we do it one breath at a time: with love, compassion, and understanding for our human condition; with playfulness and humility; with as much time as possible in nature; with an appreciation for the beautiful serendipity that surrounds us; with laughter.

And, undoubtedly, with Dave.

Hayley Bauman, Psy.D.