That darned ego


It’s Friday already. Good Friday, in fact. Although, in my experience, saying “Good” in association with “Friday” is kind of redundant.

All that aside, this week has blown by way too quick. Maybe not for you, dear employee, slave to the corporation, now ready to take in a long weekend, but for me, where everyday is like a Saturday unless I choose to get off my butt and do something productive. Being self-employed means that I never have to show up for work if I don’t feel like it – but then I never get paid either.

This week, I got back into an old battle I’ve had with Ego (my little false self in my head). It’s about an addiction I’ve had off and on for about ten years now (gosh, has it been that long?). It’s called Sid Meier’s Civilization, a computer game that steals your mind and body for weeks on end, makes you work long hours with no financial reward, and causes sleep deprivation and other health problems.

Ego can’t get enough of it. And, since I’m human, I often do what Ego tells me to do. I’m learning very slowly.

(I even heard about a guy whose girlfriend gave him an ultimatim: Either start paying more attention to her and less to that game, or she’s gone. And, of course, if you know the game well enough, you know which one he picked. He might still be single, for all I know.)

Let me tell you about Civilization (because I love talking about it). You can play it online against other people, but I prefer to set my own hours and just play it against the computer’s A.I. (artificial intelligence) players. In the game, I build cities and roads and military units, all of which start out very primitive and get more advanced as time progresses from 4,000 B.C. to the present. I can also improve the cities with libraries, religious centres, commerce, etc.

Sounds kind of boring until you get to the part that Ego really loves: I’m playing against other empires on limited land, with limited resources, all of which we need to win the game. There are resources like gems and furs, which make the people happy (particularly the women, I suppose), and resources like horses and iron, which allow military units to suit up and go to war (keeping the men happy).

If a resource exists on someone else’s turf, I can either try and get them to trade it to me (and the A.I. players hate to trade), or I can go to war and take it from them by force.

In the small mind of Ego, this is a great way to live: create a false identity, place it in a limited environment with limited resources, and make it fight other false identities to get as much stuff as possible (all of which doesn’t really exist). Make it stay up late at night, striving, suffering and fighting, and then tell it that this is really fun, and, we should do this all the time.

And we fall for it. Every effing day, we fall for it.

This is Civilization – not the game, now, but the so-called real one that we have built as the human race.

Here we are, Children of God, spiritual beings with unlimited creativity, and we play this game of limitation and scarcity and conflict, telling ourselves this story about how fun it is.

We can turn the game off at any time. We can walk away from the false sense of lack, and decide to play a bigger game of creativity, abundance, compassion and joy. Instead of fighting over that little thing that you have and I want, we can choose to create bigger things together. We can choose to let go of our slavery to the drama of pain, and release our spirits to a grander vision – a world where everyone has enough, because we create enough to go around.

Sounds simple. But it’s not easy. You would think that it would be easy just to stop fighting and relax, but it seems like we have to struggle for that, too. Ego doesn’t just step down when we tell it we don’t want to play the game any more. It’s sneaky. It comes up with lots of compelling reasons why we have to get back into the game (because it’s fun, educational, necessary for survival, etc, etc).

To win the battle against Ego, we don’t have to have a life where we never experience limitation or struggle any more. We just need this one present moment. Right here, right now, I can choose to identify myself as a spiritual being having a human experience, outside the bounds of the Ego.

I am not the player in the game. I am not King Tut of the Egyptians, fighting a war against the Persians. That’s just a game. I am not even Craig Martin, fighting a war against procrastination and dirty dishes. This, too, is just a game.

I am a creator. I made the game, and now I can change the rules.

Today, I choose to let go of lack, stop struggling, and relax into the flow of creativity and inner peace.

Wish me luck.

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About Craig

Craig lives in Calgary, Alberta.
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