Since my last post, the world has closed in upon itself. The bell tolls and we’ve all retired to our respective corners. Fear more than disease seems to permeate the air. People when they do dare to leave the house dress like asbestos workers, eyes darting to search out anyone breaching the perimeter. In the stores, we pile frozen foods, toilet paper, cleaning supplies up in our carts; fights break out over bleach wipes.
Fear is the death of compassion.
So I’ve been home for a while now and fortunate in that I can work remotely in comfort without fear. No one comes in; I have few needs that require my going out. I’ve plenty of work too – most people don’t see insurance as an exciting field and they’re right – but at such times as these, being a health insurance and employee relations expert has made me highly sought after. The lethargy that has hamstrung others, including many in my own organization hasn’t hit me. I’ve not baked anything or started drinking at 3 or watched so much as one minute of Tiger King.
Maybe if I had, I’d be better off at this moment.
In general I like to think of myself as energetic and goal oriented. Checklists are my jam; seeing the elimination of tasks, a completed report, a mowed lawn, a nicely-turned paragraph, brings me joy. Here’s your chance, I thought. All this self-improvement stuff, more time reading, praying, creating – by the time we go back to the office, I’m going to be my Best Self Ever. And so I am, assuming my best self eats an entire coffee cake at a sitting, walk-runs a 3 mile jog, and cries in the shower (which are rather less frequent than they could be).
Hubris as every high school English student knows is overweaning pride. Thinking himself better than others, better than even the gods, Oedipus ignores the prophesies of wiser men and commits the very crimes he is warned against. Pride is a very dangerous sin because it’s the only one that can catch you even when you’re trying to be good. Start feeling a bit too virtuous about yourself and wham. Pride.
Here’s the conundrum. You want to do the “right” thing. Be a ‘good” person. You should have goals; it’s how things get done. It’s harder to find a path if you’re not thinking about a possible destination. And accomplishments make us feel happy – we’re built for creativity and meaningful work. With me, however, I occasionally find that I am building myself up on these things, buttressing my flagging ego by proving myself better than. There’s not even a real object of that comparison. Just better than something else.
Humility is hard. It needs to operate from a secure space for it to be fruitful. Because it is, humility is the ultimate fruit-bearing characteristic. When you acknowledge that there’s more than you, something larger, something greater, that’s when the real achievements come to the fore. Sometimes that means realizing you’re not always going to play at the top of your game or even at the upper half. Sometimes that means being okay with not being okay, hackeyed though that phrase may be. You have to pull in, increase the tension, like a bowstring as you pull back an arrow. If you throw an arrow, it won’t getting too far. But when you pull that string back and hold it ack steady, briefly, look ahead and seek the target, your chances of coming at least within range of the goal are much improved.
So… what? Try not to compare so much. Try not to think I have to be X or Y in order to be worthwhile. Try simply to be the expression of God that I am, that each of us is. Whatever that may be.