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Feather's Miscellany: Ego And Counter-Ego

...After all, whatís the point of writing if my work isnít read or acted; if it isnít giving pleasure to others? Thatís the most satisfying part of writing Ė not being a celebrity, but giving pleasure...

John Waddington-Featherís counter-ego ensures that he never gets too big or his boots.

Our ego is a double-edged sword we carry all our lives. If we donít nourish it, we become non-entities, nobodies in life contributing nothing to it or to the welfare of our fellows. On the other hand if we over-feed it, it turns us into megalomaniac monsters like all the evil dictators throughout time, the Neros and Caligulas, the Hitlers and the Stalins of history.

It is so easy to become an self-centred egoist, thinking only of oneself and oneís standing in the world and letting ambition take one over. I canít help thinking of egotism when I open my paper or watch television and see all those celebrities preening themselves at this or that function, wallowing in the limelight. Of course, not all celebrities are like that, but many certainly give that impression. And judging from what I read in the popular press, many are not at all happy with their lives. No sooner are some of them married than you read within months of their separation and divorce. It seems you canít walk the high-wire of life without sometimes falling off.

But what of my own ego and counter-ego? Mercifully I have a counter-ego and as a result, both sides of my personality are at odds with each other. Part of me is puffed up with self-pride, fondly imagining I am better than I am. The other more balanced and sober part of me is constantly holding that egoistic side in check and cutting me down to size. The encouraging praise I sometimes receive from my readers could so easily get out of hand and make me fondly believe Iím one of the greats; another BrontŽ, say, or Priestley.

But my counter-ego holds me in check. It makes me satisfied simply by knowing my work is read or watched on the stage. After all, whatís the point of writing if my work isnít read or acted; if it isnít giving pleasure to others? Thatís the most satisfying part of writing Ė not being a celebrity, but giving pleasure.

And I canít end this little essay without mentioning a recent incident which boosted my ego no end. I was attending a summer fÍte in a neighbouring village at which the Mothers Union (to which I belong ,believe it or not) was holding a book-stall. When I reached the gate, I put down three signed copies of my detective novels on the entrance collectorís table while I took out my purse. The gate-man saw my name printed on the covers of the novels and asked: ďDo you read much of John Waddington-Featherís work?Ē

Tongue in cheek, I replied: ďA little now and again. Do you?Ē

ďOh, yes,Ē he replied. ďIím a great fan of his mystery novels.Ē

By this time I was enjoying myself hugely and said: ďHave you ever met him?Ē

ďNo,Ē he answered.

ďYou have now!Ē I chuckled, lapping up the surprised look on his face.

He hadnít read one of the books and it never got as far as the Mothers Union stall for he bought it there and then and I passed his money over with my other books. Just for a moment my ego wallowed in its own limelight that afternoon; but the greatest satisfaction came, not from being some sort of celebrity, but from knowing that my books were actually being read and enjoyed.

John Waddington-Feather ©


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