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I was taking my daily morning walk a few days ago. I was doing something quite out of character as I walked - rather than looking up and ahead of me, I had my nose down in my phone. What was I doing? For some reason I felt it was urgent that I check my emails. It couldn't possibly wait till I got home. No, I had to do it right this minute. I didn't slow my pace, as most normal people would have done. No, I continued walking briskly. After all, I was out for exercise and fitness.

I looked up just in time to narrowly miss walking into a little old lady (well, older than me, anyway). Her permed hair was visible in soft white curls under her winter hat. Cheeks pinked by the frosty air, a picture of dignified respectability. She did not look at all amused as she side-stepped and avoided a full frontal collision. I caught myself just in time and came to a full stop. I apologized profusely. I felt a rush of embarrassment wash over me. How could I have been so negligent and unobservant?

Her look of utter scorn and derision is super-glued in my mind. If looks could kill.... Words fail me as I try and describe the expression on her face in that moment. It is better described in the shards of emotion and the icy aftermath of shame it created in me. That one icy glare sliced my ego to shreds.

I find that the simplest definition of Ego is the part of me that protects me from feeling vulnerable. We all have a face that we show to the world, which is our Persona. The "public face" that I wanted the world around me to notice was that I was a gregarious, friendly neighbor, chirping a cheery "good morning" to everyone I encountered. I was in tune with the world around me. I was mindful, noticing the trees, the sky, the birds, the people, the dogs. Especially the dogs; no dog was left un-petted. This was the lens through which my Ego wanted me to be viewed.

That morning I did something which made me think, “That’s not me. I would never do that.” This was my Shadow speaking. I had been exposed. My Ego was busily safeguarding me from the person who almost ran down a fragile little old lady. The Shadow is, at its core, the dark part of me that makes me human. It's the part of myself that I don't want others to see. How humbling it was to come face to face with my shadow-self. No, I wasn't always the perfect human being that I liked to see myself as.

And all that was needed for me to come to this painful realization was a disdainful look from a little old lady!

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