Saturday, October 9, 2010

308) some thoughts on humility

the literary life 10/9/10

So I found this quote on humility this morning, a quote which really struck me. Here it is:

“The truly humble person cannot be humiliated.” ~ Donald Klein

Ahhh...the "truly humble person." Interesting idea. I've always thought that humility in our culture is under-appreciated. There's this idea that confidence is the key ingredient for success. Yet I go back and forth between these embodiments of self. Which is more important, confidence or humility? I think on an external level, people respect confidence more. Yet at the same time, humility doesn't have to mean just modesty or meekness. It can also mean strength: humility can be seen as a higher expression of confidence. I liked how humility was described in an article I came across recently entitled, "Humility: The Most Beautiful Word in the English Language" by Bruna Martinuzzi. Here's an excerpt:

"We often confuse humility with timidity. Humility is not clothing ourselves in an attitude of self-abasement or self-denigration. Humility is all about maintaining our pride about who we are, about our achievements, about our worth - but without arrogance - it is the antithesis of hubris, that excessive, arrogant pride which often leads to the derailment of some corporate heroes, as it does with the downfall of the tragic hero in Greek drama. It's about a quiet confidence without the need for a meretricious selling of our wares. It's about being content to let others discover the layers of our talents without having to boast about them. It's a lack of arrogance, not a lack of aggressiveness in the pursuit of achievement."
I aim to embrace this kind of humility because it is empowering, and it leaves less room for "humiliation." The idea of letting others discover who we are without announcement is a form of surrender I find to be a relief. I feel this view of humility is something I would like to embrace in my life as a teacher and as a poet. Sometimes I get caught up in the noisy world and find myself shouting out, "Look at me! I can do this!" But I enjoy the moments best when I let myself enjoy the crowd itself, when I speak not to glorify the self, but glorify being.

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