Day 93: Humility day.Posted: April 3, 2011
This is, really, an impossible post.
If I had been humble today – and that’s not a negligible if – I would completely negate that humility by writing about it here. An act done humbly has, as a necessary component, the element of not-drawing-attention-to-the-fact-that-you’re-doing-it. Can’t have trumpeters walk in front of you to draw attention to your humility, or something like that.
What options am I left with? I could attempt to be funny, and talk about all of the outlandishly humble things I did today – and in such a way as to make it obvious that I didn’t realize what an ass that made me. Something like this:
Yeah, I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning to make waffles and bacon and scrambled eggs and coffee, which I loaded up on my xtracycle and delivered to local homeless people – and I gave them massages while they ate, because I’m just such a nice guy. I painted an orphanage, repaired the playground equipment at a park in the poor part of town, and saved a few kittens on my way to volunteering at the food bank. I had to postpone visiting sick children in the hospital, because I hadn’t finished making the teddy bears I take them – I make them by hand, from sustainable, fair-trade, ethically-sourced materials – and I hadn’t gotten those done because I spent the early afternoon reading to the blind at the local library. Oh, and I built four houses for underprivileged families.
That’s not particularly funny, though, and it made me feel dirty to write it – and not in a good way, either.
Fortunately, the Book’s secondary instructions gave me a way out of this dilemma: I was directed to meditate on the enormous odds against the existence of human life in general, and my life in particular – sort of the secular version of “Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return” – a sentiment best expressed (as are so many things) by Bill Watterson:
This sort of cosmic humility is a slightly different animal than the humility-as-action-or-service model that I think is the more common understanding of the word, at least here in the West – and our unmeasurable smallness relative to the universe at large is a good thing to keep in mind, certainly. I’m not sure it’s much easier to write about, though. How would that go? “My life is an unimportant cosmic accident, nothing I do matters, might as well drink all the time and throw golf balls at little kids during recess and wander around the grocery store in my pajamas muttering curse words and bits of the periodic table.”
Maybe. That’s funnier than the smug asshole above, at least a little bit, and more fun to write. Not sure I could do a whole post without talking myself into it, though, and I’m not sure drunken harassment of elementary-school children is a wise career move.
Look. I did some stuff today that benefitted people who weren’t me, and I’ll do more stuff that benefits people who aren’t me tomorrow. Other people have done the same for me, and will continue to do so. That’s how life is supposed to work, right? We all depend on each other, and politeness – if nothing else – dictates that we don’t make a big deal out of the things we do to help others, because it ought not be a big deal; common decency ought to be unremarkable, because it ought to be common.
I really did build four houses today, though, which is pretty awesome, and you should all admire how humble and self-sacrificial I am – because, seriously, nobody’s more humble than I am.