At the start of my journey, before I was 3 miles from home, four things had gone wrong~~three minor annoyances and one more significant. Anxiety perched on my shoulder. “I wonder what else will mess up,” she whispered in my ear. “Maybe it’ll be a bumpy flight~~if we even make the plane. Maybe things won’t go so well all the way around.”
I watched the process. I noticed a tightening in my chest as negativity gained momentum, a closing down of experience as I braced for trouble. And then I made a choice. I chose to open.
I reassured my frightened self who was, after all, only trying to prepare me for disappointment. I explained that the mishaps thus far were simple reminders that neither of us was in charge of this trip. By the time I was 6 miles from home, I’d vowed to welcome whatever came my way. An excellent perspective for a vacation, as well as for the small moments of each ordinary day.
My time in the wintry northeast was rich and meaningful, with soul~feeding interactions with several amazing women I’ve known for decades. The terrain of their lives varies, yet each is doing her best to walk the path before her with grace.
One flies high, freed by challenges successfully met and lessons gleaned. Another purrs along in a lovely life that has recently thrown her a few curve balls. A few are in the midst of deep suffering. It was one of these dear souls who articulated the idea of humility.
This woman sensed that if she could allow herself to be humbled~~a true humbling, not an angry capitulation or a weary resignation~~a softening would occur. And in that softening, a new approach just might be found and a more harmonious pathway delineated.
It’s natural to tighten up when difficulties arise. Yet this tightening can bring a rigidity that closes us down to life. I humbled myself when I accepted that I was not in control of my trip. What had rapidly been growing rigid in my heart, mind and spirit softened, allowing me to embrace a journey that would unfold along its own trajectory, with or without my consent.
Being humble is not much in vogue these days. The dictionary defines it as “a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, or subservience”. Not very inviting. The definition of “modest” seems more palatable.
There is a force at work in this world that is larger than our small wills. Whether we conceive of it as a personal God, a karmic flowering, or just “the way things are”, when we embody humility, we open ourselves to be changed, even transformed, by our experience.
An image from my trip comes to me now as I type these words. I stood alone outdoors on the top deck at the bow of an early morning ferry. Snow whirled in a biting wind. Shades of grey surrounded me~~the pure grey of snow~giving clouds above, the deeper green~gray of ocean below, the colors of ship and small island to my right muted into still more shades of gray.
I offered my face to the chill and gave my entire being to that moment. The holiness of the Now flooded me. The words insignificant, inferior, and subservient washed over me as well. And I found they didn’t rankle a bit.
No, I bowed before those words, before the beauty of that monochromatic morning, before the experience itself. I humbled myself before the All, and relished being released once again from the burden of my own importance.
Blessings to you all!