Yesterday I wrote about the personal philosophy I was starting to build around the core ideas presented in The Egg.
The post was a little bit abstract - I only had the space of a single car ride to think through the implications of believing that every single person I have or ever will meet is a previous or future incarnation of myself.
It turns out that taking a walk down Market Street is a great way to inspire some hard questions in someone with my (newly found) belief set. How excited am I really about spending an entire lifetime throwing cans at strangers and shouting at cars? How can any of these people possibly be incarnations of mine when they seem to care so little about anything? Is that man is wearing socks with sandals? How could I ever act this rude, or be this unattractive, or look this stupid?
And then an older white me made an apologetic joke to a younger hispanic me as a crowd of me squeezed onto the train and forced both of me closer together, and I was utterly charmed by myself.
I went on to take a dance class from myself, cheer for myself (some versions of me are great dancers), get into an car and listen as the me in the navigator’s seat asked the me in the driver’s seat if he’d eaten yet and offered him some of her dinner (I am a super nice person). I half-paid attention as I talked to me about personal victories and persistent worries, and I did it without resentment, without condescension, and without jealousy.
They say that the secret to being a good communicator is to genuinely be interested in what the other person has to say. I’ve always found this advice difficult to adopt because the truth is, in most cases, that I cannot bring myself to care about the irrelevant details of other people’s lives. Since yesterday, I’ve been finding it easier. It even feels like I’m starting to become better at it.
As far as I can tell, my primary sin has always been that I am irredeemably self-centered. Does the philosophy of The Egg help or hurt?
On one hand, this mental jiujitsu I’m doing where I trick myself into caring more about everyone around me because I see them as an extension of myself is probably a net positive for those people, and the world in general.
On the other hand, what if all I’m really doing is feeding the unhealthy parts of my ego and inaccurately projecting my own motivations onto other people in a way that creates a massive blowup down the road?
It’s hard to know right now. I guess you could call me a work in progress.
Like some kind of egg.