Living in the Wild West or Endless Color
What was it like to be famous gunfighter Jesse James in America’s Old West? A gunfighter possesses extraordinary courage in the face of danger. He fiercely defends himself and community from dangerous outlaws and rivals. With a cautious eye and closed-off heart, gunfighter James erected an impenetrable mental and emotional wall between himself and outsiders.
Now, make a mental snapshot of becoming a famous artist like Picasso. Picasso’s world embodied color, scenes, images and light. He passionately channeled creativity through sculpture, printmaking, ceramic works, stage design and writing. Picasso tapped into a never-ending supply of original works using his
wide-open mind and playful heart.
How can we translate the roles of gunfighter and artist in ourselves? The gunfighter represents our head or ego; the artist represents our mind or imagination. Since Plato’s time, society has operated from the head where rational and limited thinking rule the roost. From one generation to the next, parents have conditioned their children to be smart, logical and practical. Read here for how to sing your song.
The head invests time and effort in pride, defense, power and showmanship as hallmarks of success. However, this success model has many pitfalls. Overuse of the head results in various forms of over-analyzing and escapism. In our heads we
- are consumed by thoughts that fail to provide useful or long-lasting solutions.
- compare ourselves to others who we perceive make progress not accessible to us.
- merely exist, losing our power, peace, love and joy.
- judge ourselves unworthy of belonging.
- attach to various artificial versions of reality – daydreaming, fantasy, illusion – to try to cope with constant mental chatter.
The Treasure Within
Unlike the egoic gunfighter staking property claims, the imaginative artist claims the unlimited free space of his mind. Here he spreads his dreams. While overseeing his mind’s vast abundance, he allows his bounty room to flourish. For most of us, moments spent at this creative banquet are fleeting. Why? We grossly underestimate our imagination’s immense value.
We’ve got it backwards!
We allow our heads free reign to dominate mental operations, yet distance ourselves from our divine gift of imagination. With the prevalence of ego chaos and distraction (mental drama), isn’t it time to revalue imagination as our true treasure chest? Imagination calls us forth to unlock and yield her precious riches.
Lucy Finds Another Way Home
Lucy starts working with a coach, out of desperation. Her life has little joy, and routines hold no meaning. The main source of her sadness is the loss of her beloved husband, Ron, of 26 years. Through a flood of tears she reports how life unfolds each day. Lucy wishes she had died first, if only to relieve herself of this terrible pain. She carries plenty of unresolved guilt for not being a good enough caregiver. Her embittered stepchildren accuse her of making poor caregiving choices, even blaming her for Ron’s death.
Every day Lucy wakes up and looks in the mirror. At first her mind tells herself that today is the day to feel better. Then her head sabotages her intention by convincing her that feeling good is a sign of not grieving enough. Then Lucy looks in the mirror and sees the same tired face, angry heart and empty eyes. Her head says she doesn’t matter to anyone anymore so why bother feeling good. She often recalls Ron’s face before he died and her heart breaks all over again.
Lucy can’t stop remembering the past from the point of loss and her future seems pointless.
Step 1. Determine the differences between ego and imagination.
- reinforces brokenness and suffering
- isolates the Self with doses of insecurity and self-pity
- pursues a hostile mental takeover with despair and loneliness
- convinces the Self it is stuck and incapable of healing
- roams in the past and future
- rules the Self with overdoses of fire and earth – causing destruction and collapse
- offers the possibility to to stay present, grounded and connected to truth
- welcomes beauty, kindness and gratitude
- encourages a willing mind and an open heart
- allows faith and forgiveness the opportunity to happen
- infuses strength and awareness in the self for recovery
- dedicates time for air and water – allowing for flow and acceptance
Step 2. Write down examples of how ego takes charge and blocks growth.
The considerable size of the ego list (perfect metaphor!) halts their conversation. Lucy is beginning to grasp the ego’s mindless and unrelenting agenda. No wonder she feels drained and heavy!
Step 3. Describe how imagination can help manage grief and mental abuse.
Once Lucy had completed this exercise, she proclaims:
My imagination is a safe place for my mind and heart to occupy right now! I say ‘no thank you’ to the ego and its tricks. It’s time to imagine hope and warmth lifting me out of the rubble. Although this new adventure takes work, I am finally ready to allow my Imagination to uplift me and to feel better.
Gunfighter or Artist? You decide.
The path of knowledge is a limited picture of gunfighting, shielding emotions and anticipating dread to show up at any minute. The ego loves to hold us hostage to habit, patterns and programming.
Relinquishing the egos mighty hold on us is a choice. We are more than capable of walking over the ego line and into our beautiful minds. The mind partners with us to discover, expand and connect with our divine compass. Its only mission is to guide us to the truth and help us shine.