I am not easily humbled.
Status symbols don’t wow me. Your car, boat, square footage and social standing are of little interest.
But show me something that matters—incredible internal strength, grace under pressure, acceptance—these things may humble me.
I am human enough to appreciate a beautiful sports car or a lovely waterside home. I tend to love them more for their aesthetic value than for what they say about their owners. I love creature comforts as much as they next gal but . . .
. . . these things can be attained by weenies.
Strength, grace, acceptance? These must be earned. And no one else can do that for you. So, if you possess these qualities, it tells me something about you as a person. Among the things it tells me: you are not a weenie.
Hey, I was raised a Midwestern girl by parents from the Greatest Generation. What can I say? They’d be happy to know some of their values stuck like glue.
Moments when I am humbled by what I see before me are some of the most beautiful I’ve had.
For instance, when my home is filled with my boys and their friends. Smelly shoes, cracking voices, shouts, gales of laughter. Sometimes, as I sit in the midst of the whirlwind of activity, I wonder. At the quantity of food being eaten and crumbs on the floor? Of course. More importantly, I wonder at the absolute magic and science involved in these living, breathing not-quite-men being born—of all things– through me. And of the life that fills my house. The life that would not have existed had I not helped the divine will this into being. I am humbled by my part in the divine.
I am humbled by the kid who sits on the bench for much of every lacrosse game his team plays. The one who shows up for practice faithfully anyway, trains hard and keeps his head down. I watch him endure what I would consider harsh physical punishment in the form of pushups, burpees, endless sprints. And I watch him miss out on the glory awarded the players for whom it all comes naturally, or at least more easily. I am humbled by his persistence, his honoring of the commitment he made, with no flashy reward. It seems a very mature attitude for one so young.
A quiet sunrise over a still lake humbles me. As do mountains and rushing water. I am humbled by what a small cog I am in a very large world. And by how beautiful the bits of it not touched by our penchant for concrete are.
I am humbled by people who sit quietly by the beds of their loved ones as they lay dying. I saw plenty of these when my parents were in hospice. It takes an inner strength of unimaginable depth to do that, to hold space, and then to have to go into the world and be a mom, a dad, a spouse, an employee.
I am humbled by those who endure the judgment of others without wanting to lash out and set them straight. Parents who are judged for their children’s errors. Divorced people who are judged for ending a marriage. Creative types who are judged for risking a new idea, one we’ll never benefit from because it was quashed rather than considered.
The risk takers, the ones who endure, those who look into the void and say “yes” to their part in the unfolding of good. These people humble me. They are a spark of the divine in a world that sorely needs a bonfire of the divine.
Weenies need not apply.