We’re all clinging to images of ourselves that pile up year after year. Some images make us look good, some make us look bad. But images can’t substitute for the real things. The real you is vital and alive, shifting and changing at every moment.
In everyone’s life, the ego extends its lease by saying, “Hold on. Keep trying. I know what to do.” But stand back and consider what this strategy comes down to: If all your hard work hasn’t brought you what you want, work harder. If you don’t have enough, get more. If your dream fails, keep following it. If you grow insecure, believe in yourself more. Never acknowledge failure; success is the only option.
This kind of ego motivation, turned into slogans, is deeply ingrained in popular culture. Following your dream and never giving up has become a credo repeated by the rich, famous, and successful. Yet for every winner of a beauty pageant, stock-car race, World Series, or Hollywood audition, there are an untold number whose dream didn’t come true. They followed their dream just as hard and believed in it just as much. By no means did the ego’s strategy work for them.
Fortunately, there’s another way; it’s the exact opposite of the ego’s strategy: If all your hard work hasn’t brought you what you want, look for new inspiration. If you don’t have enough, find it in yourself. If your dream fails, and you see that it was a fantasy, find a dream that matches your reality. If you grow insecure, detach yourself from the situation until you find your center again. You are not shaken by either success of failure; the flow of life brings both, as temporary states.
The real self is a shifting, elusive phantom that’s always one step ahead of us. It dissolves the instant you think you’re about to grab it. You can’t ever nail down who you really are. To understand your real self, you have to keep up as it moves. Finding the real you happens on the run. The same holds true for grace, since it is part of the real you.
Adapted from Reinventing The Body, Resurrecting The Soul, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2009).