I was watching the Arnold Palmer Invitational on t.v. last weekend, and there was Tiger Woods turning in another mediocre performance, missing putts and approaches and ending up tied with Phil Mikelson. The poor guy has really lost his mojo. I wonder if he will ever recover it. A few days earlier there was a short item in the Montreal Gazette about how every since her devastating breakup with her husband, Shania Twain has been completely unable to sing. And I remember in the mid sixties my father and brother and I were climbing the West Ridge of the Eiger in Switzerland, and we met an Austrian guide named Adi Mayr coming down from the summit with his Australian client. Adi, who was about 30, was incredibly up and full of enthusiasm and brimming with self-confidence. A few days later he made the first solo attempt to climb the dreaded North Face of the Eiger. He had climbed the West Ridge to scout it out. The first day– people were watching him through telescope in KJleine Scheidegg– Adi moved quickly and confidently and got all the way up to the White Spider, a patch of ice and snow two thirds of the way up that no party had ever reached before, and bivouacked. The next day he seemed to have completely lost his self-confidence and slipped and fell to his death after only a couple of hundred yards.
So ego is important. If you want to be a music star, it’s an important as being able to carry a tune and keep the beat. If you want to be a golf star, no one else cares if you’re going to make it, in fact a lot of people want you not to. The higher you get, the more people want to see you fail and fall. I was talking about this with Bono several years ago, we had dinner in Dublin and ended up talking till till three in the morning. You’re a great guy, I told him, but what’s with this ego ? Bono quoted Delmore Schwarz : “the ego is always at the wheel.” This is true. If the ego isn’t at the wheel, who is.
So even though the ego is an illusion– “I” don’t really exist, have never felt that I did, I’m just the Suitcase, a free-floating consciousness doing what I can for the world– it’s a good idea to develop and cultivate a strong ego, if you want to have an effective and useful life. Otherwise the world will walk all over you.