Malaise and Ego

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“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” ~Marcus Aurelius, 170 A.D.

I read these words this morning and they rang true to me. Only six more weeks until my boots hit the Camino trail in France. All winter long, I’ve been hiking between three and seven miles a day. Then “it” happened, which means I’ve been on a hiatus for over two weeks. What exactly was “it” anyway? I’d been traveling, got sick, and was confounded by wicked weather. I could say these things combined were “it.” (And, in fact, the old me might have said so.)

But the truth is I could have been racking up the miles. With the exception of being bedridden for a few days, I was capable of walking. In fact, our local mall opens early for walkers and, while not my favorite locale, at least I’d have been keeping up with my miles.

“It” as it turns out was me. I gave up, feeling stuck in shame and fear. That little ego voice inside me whispered, “Who are you to hike the Camino? You’re not fit enough. You know your knee is wonky. What if…?”

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You get the picture. I felt a general malaise, cycling between fear and doubt and shame.

I’d like to say this is a new feeling but the truth is I used to let my ego run the show. It kept me safe and small and contained. I didn’t know that I could choose whether or not to listen to what it whispered. Consequently, I would sometimes stop short of achieving what I said I wanted.

Thankfully, an early morning Saturday chat with my brilliant friend Dona helped me work through the malaise and its associated feelings. She encouraged me to lose the “should haves” and “could haves” and commit to getting back to work. And so I did.

Today was sunny and warmer, the sky a brilliant blue. No breeze ruffled the newly flowered forsythia. I walked nearly seven miles, stopping to film a video and say “hi” to passing pups. It felt great to be back on the trail where there’s no room for ego or malaise.


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