Life as a human is confounding, demanding, intensely challenging and ultimately a complete mystery. It doesn’t matter how many drops of wisdom have rained upon my head, there are simply always ways to get it wrong. To be messy. To trigger and be triggered by others actions. To be misunderstood. To lose track of how to do it right – if there really is any doing it right! Or perhaps we just keep picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off and trying again. That seems to be a more realistic way to understand life and how it actually works. The never ending challenges that are presented as the pilgrimage, the path, life itself – are ways we grow and learn and simply experience.
How do we reach for humility? Or does it sometimes just come and slam us to the ground, in an unexpected moment? Is there hope of perfection? It’s possible that humility is the complete realization that perfection is unattainable…that our foibles are part of us, that finding others whose quirks and crazinesses coincide and resonate with ours is the most effective way to enjoy ourselves. Even then, the stumbling blocks just keep coming. They trip us, we fall, sometimes break a bone, or sprain an ankle, other times just pick ourselves up and continue on. Perhaps we dance to reggae music all day just to scare the blues away. The so-called higher path would have us see each stumbling block as a gift as a messenger as an opportunity. What gold is the dragon guarding? The dragon of course symbolizing the challenge. A tangible result of living in humility is to see everything as a gift from the divine – and to be able to genuinely ask the question “how is this situation helping me be the person I strive to be” and fully facing that recognition with confidence in its positive outcome.
I once tripped over a broken concrete slab, fell to my knees and was unable to walk for about 5 years. Walking was then (and still is) one of my favorite activities. It seemed possible that my injuries would require me to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of my life. This seemed unimaginably painful, truly agonizing and utterly terrifying. I sobbed, I wept, I sat around a lot and gained a lot of weight. Yikes! Then, somehow a miracle occurred and a talented physical therapist tweaked my knee back into place so that true healing was catalyzed. Today I can go days without any pain at all and walk miles in the sand. I am so grateful for each step, each stroll, each meander – so much more grateful than if the possibility hadn’t gone missing.
It is also humbling to find a close friend or companion preferring the company of another. One of the most difficult life challenges to navigate is the loss of love, or the seeming loss of love. And then, the resistance to it actually drives it farther away. All the teachings about acceptance and surrender are called upon to no avail. It’s hard not to feel forsaken again, alone – not friendless but without that special friend or soul mate. Humility and love say – celebrate your friend’s happiness with their new friend. The demon ego says all kinds of other unhelpful things, which I’d rather not repeat. Often anger arises – which is of course masking the deep pain of loneliness and rejection. And yet, what if we are never actually being rejected. What if the universe is giving us exactly what we want and need, but we have a lag time in recognizing that. In that lag time, humility comes in handy to keep us balanced and joyous. Saying thank you to everything is truly the path of love.
And yet – as we are continually evolving, ever-changing ephemeral beings made from a lot of empty space with some molecules floating around in it (!) perhaps change really is always good. My inner Pollyanna knows this – it is one of the superpower wisdom bits of life. See challenges as opportunities. The Chinese character for change also means opportunity. Emptiness leaves room for something new to arise. Looking back at my own life, and its stages, when one person leaves, another arrives, or another dozen arrive. Net gain, for sure. Being able to find this truth in the harder moments is another benefit of humility, which in my opinion means living in acceptance and surrender to the conditions of this moment. The truly deeply unbelievably profound mystery of manifestation and life seems to demand a recognition of its magnitude. In Sanskrit it’s “Jai Ma” – or “Celebrate the Mother of Us All”… It’s not humility if it doesn’t feel fantastic!