Humility is not Humiliation
Of Humility And Other Things – First Impressions Of A New Life by Nasim Maani - Beijing, China June 2014. What do YOU think of, when you think of China? You probably think of green tea and the delicious, exotic foods that are prepared here, the detail-oriented, ancient architecture like that of the Forbidden City, the varied landscapes of this vast land, the smiling faces of its hardworking and beautiful people . . . the amazing juxtaposition of ancient culture and highly shiny modernism in this beautiful city of Beijing! And you would be right on all counts! It is ALL that and much, much more! I wish you could see Beijing with your own eyes today, when it has been washed clean by a generous downpour of heavenly rain. It is gorgeous! It smells wonderfully fresh, the trees are full of leaves and I feel so very grateful to be here in this moment!
And yet if I had only had one word to describe to you my experience of living a new life these last few months, it would be: “humbling”. The last 10 months have just been rich in humbling experiences. You could see “humbling “ as a state of embarrassment, to be avoided at all cost. Not an uplifting sensation, surely nothing one desires on a daily basis. My ego certainly doesn’t like being humbled at all. It doesn’t like speaking Chinese like a 3 year old, after memorizing over 600 pieces of vocabulary. My ego doesn’t enjoy reinventing itself for the fourth or fifth time; it is weary of the energy it takes to get to know your neighbors all over again, and it is feeling hurt that no one, absolutely no one knows what this obscure job is that you say you can do. Yoga therapist? What is that? And why on earth, would you want to live in a place where you have to stand in line to pay for each utility separately with cash in your bag??? This is what my ego likes to say.
And yet I’m learning that humility is not humiliation. I’m learning that every humbling experience is a teacher, even if it hurts. I’m in need of every one of those teachable moments. Even the silly ones, like: being thrown out of a taxi, because the driver just doesn’t want to go that far anymore. Or not having running water the very week that you have visitors come to stay with you for a few days. And then there is also this sensation of being humbled by the kindness of total strangers. It puts you in awe of God’s creation, the purity of the human heart, no matter where you are on this planet!
We are human. We are not meant to be perfect, but we are perfectly able to give our best, to learn the lessons of life in seeing other views and other ways of living life. It is knowing, that there are opportunities just waiting to be uncovered, never imagined plans to be thought of. It is this seeing ourselves as small and insignificant in a sea of billions of people (in China this is not just a metaphor), in this Universe, and yet knowing that we are unique. There is no one else just like us. We are meant to play a part and we will. It will all unfold in time…
As Helen Keller once said: “I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble.”
To us all, who are not perfect, but resilient. May we keep on learning and be thankful for the gift of Humility, our greatest teacher.
To end with Maya Angelou’s words: “I’ve learned, I still have a lot to learn.”