Humility: Ego Smackdown?
Sad to say, that still, my greatest access to humility often comes in the form of humiliation.
Geez, I would have thought that I made more progress...but still, years later, I still get my best access to being right sized by not being right sized and someone or something, showing me exactly where I am off.
We all know exactly what humiliation means but humility, I find, that most of us have no real working idea or definition...and it would not be very humble of me to say what it is or what it isn’t!
So I will share with you what I believe, clearly not what is true.
For me, humility is an honest, ongoing conversation with myself about myself with the goal being to inventory this self person in a manner and with an intention to know her better, while ensuring that her glaring defects of character are not swept under the rug or given a pass.
Humility is an active manner of living requiring constant scrutiny of my motives, objectives, schemes and plans. It is about assessing where I am being right sized about things instead of playing the big shot or succumbing to my feelings of less than. Humility requires that neither extreme operate to drive my life - humility requiring that I take my place as a human being (fallible, suffering, fragile) and balance that with my egoic nature to demand more than my share of pretty much everything.
As I have described it, humility seems like a battleground of the human condition, but true humility I believe is just a quiet acceptance of the epic imbalance of the two and a peaceful abiding that it will never, ever be different.
Humility says that I am neither all that great or a piece of shit. Humility seeks to bring the goodness in me out while also ferreting out the not so great stuff too. Humility seems to be a constant and insatiable examination of my internal thoughts with my external actions.
Humility shows me who I truly am and also provides me solace from that hard truth at the same time.
Humility reminds me of a bar room fight I once witnessed...
Two men leave a bar intoxicated. One more so than the other. The more drunk one insists on driving. The other more sober man, implores his friend to not get behind the wheel. The drunker man refuses to listen. So the friend has limited options...so he cold cocks the guy and lays him flat out. The drunk man hits the payment, stunned and bloodied, only to be given a hand back up to standing by the very man who just clocked him good.
This is my relationship with humility. It kicks my ass, then helps me up every single time. Humility really is egoic homeostasis.
I will never be all good or all bad. I will always be a blend of both in every moment whether I am doing something spiritually meritful or I am behaving like a selfish jerk. Humility is always there to point out the error of my ways, with a kind a loving hand...of course, it is the hand that just smacked me silly, but now being offered in a loving, kind, caring and compassionate way.
Maybe humility is something different to you. Ok, fine. I would love to hear your definition. I love hearing new takes on old ideas. And I need them, I need always to be open to new thoughts...lest I perish because of the one thought that I stubbornly refuse to relinquish.
Life is a series of thoughts thunk, actions taken and revisions made, or not. Humility acts as a kind of leveler in all my thrashing about...showing me evermore where I am stuck, off course and afraid. And let’s be clear, every stupid, bad, egoic, asshole thing I have ever done or said was done or said because I was afraid.
Humility is the balancing act of showing me where I am fearful without overwhelming me with too much information. Humility shows me, when I am ready, where I have fallen into the fear spiral, grasping for anything and anyone to make me feel better about whatever shit I just did. And when humility finds me there, spinning out of control, humility is a loving embrace or a solid kick in the ass depending on what I need in the moment. And to be crystal clear, I am always going to need humility’s loving care and firm hand. One without the other only coddles me into the belief that I am wonderful and too much back hand leaves me feeling isolated and abused. Which is why humility will always have both in every encounter because it is the only way I have ever hope to maintain any kind of rightsizedness in this life.
Perhaps true humility is remaining teachable despite how very much your head tells you, you already know. It is the point where you quiet the needy child who is always clamoring for attention and praise, and acknowledge that there is so very much you don’t know about so many things that you think you do...
Humility, for me, is the grace to believe that I do know some stuff while also maintaining the belief that all I know is not truth. And a firm commitment to the belief that this will always be the case...no matter what my head tells me...