..to be and stay humble.
late 13c., of persons, "submissive, respectful, lowly in manner, modest, not self-asserting, obedient," from Old French humble, umble, earlier umele, from Latin humilis "lowly, humble," literally "on the ground," from humus "earth," from PIE root *dhghem- "earth." From late 14c., of things, "lowly in kind, state, condition, or amount," also "of low birth or rank." Related: Humbly.
But that's not our way, is it?
Being submissive, lest still lowly in manner.
OMG: there are so many generalisations therein but ask yourself if we didn't feel all other sentient beings (and even the odd inanimate thing), why is it we've come to a point where we still feel the need to brutalise almost everything in order to be human?
Perhaps it is, as part of our adaptation to a modern world, we've extended the reach of our survivalist instinct to the point where we no longer know what it means to look out for, be respectful of or be in service to something other than our ego. And that means, sadly, nearly everyone is on a mission to do, to get and most especially of all to be something.
And that something isn't plain and ordinary: it's hewn from tablets of stone that says you can't waste a single moment contemplating anything more than being the most awesome person who ever walked the earth.
You might think I write these words in jest or to make a point but I don't. I'm deadly serious. Even in or especially in these grief-stricken, wretched Covid19 times, the language I read is all about filling up the downtime with building up another war chest of talents, skills and resilience-inducing characteristics ready for the new order on the other side of lockdown.
Well, surely by now, you know the drill.
Your mission should you choose to accept it is to grab life by the scruff of the neck and wring it dry of all its potential if you don't want to be deemed, at the very moment of your departure from this mortal world, a big fat failure.
Cue the life coaches, success gurus and, dare I say it, the legions of entrepreneurs who are the backdrop to our new religion who are leading the charge for another guilt trip where if you're not following in their footsteps then, well, there are lots of other people lined up to drink the cool-aid.
Let me pause my outpouring for a minute and pray in aid some of the most important words I've ever read. Don't laugh.
"5 Things in Their Identity
A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him. It "consents," so to speak, to His creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree." — Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Or to put it more succinctly.
"Be — drop becoming." — Osho
Can you imagine anyone buying this message? No, I don't mean the one that says just be yourself. Jeez. Look where that's got us.
I mean not allowing your ego to take centre stage (or any stage) and being deeply connected to the unknowing, unfathomable part of your soul.
Anyhow (why do I always truncate my sentences this way?), the point is we're not very good at seeing our weaknesses, not least the fact that we don't recognise how much the world revolves around us. As I'm apt to tell anyone who will listen: the world doesn't need us; we need it. If that's not bloody obvious right now as nature starts to gently recover from all those years of being ravaged then, more than likely, there will never be a moment again where you hear the birds sing so brightly, the air electric with all of nature's delicious smells and more than anything else, the atmosphere doesn't feel on high alert waiting for the next mega billions of CO2 to be dumped on it by the zillions of planes, trains and automobiles. (I've managed to include at least two lines from famous films in this post. Aren't I clever? *sighs*)
And the point of this post?
Well, at the very least, get used to a new order where it's OK to admit you don't have the answers to cure the darker side of the human condition. Better still, stand guard against anyone and anything that tries to convince you that a new normal will emerge on the other side of Covid19 that's a little gentler and slightly more eco friendly than the one that came before. I don't want to say it's pure unadulterated horsesh*t, but having witnessed innumerable recessions and been through my own series of financial depressions, it won't be long before everyone breaths a huge sigh of relief and once again looks to the military-industrial complex for salvation.
For what it's worth, and at the risk of inviting ridicule and opprobrium, I'm going to make damn sure that I remind myself not to look back on this period as something we got through, but, instead, as a stake in the ground to stay humble, even if my rampant ego thinks I need to go out into the world and make something of myself.
No, as Merton said, I've got to give glory to something beyond the ken of my life-bound experience to (if nothing else) remind me that I'm not above anything or anybody and I need to gently walk my "don't know" talk.
Expect to see, therefore, less exhortation, finger-wagging and acerbic posts, and more...well, of nothing actually — just a few simple words.
Blessings and much love,
PS. Just before I was about to hit the publish button, I made a point to check on Feedly for today's news and blog posts. I came across this wonderful post from Austin Kleon, The Man With No Advice. It does a far better job of making my point and it's got some fun Zines for you to enjoy. You might want to give it a read.