Friday, May 04, 2012

Pride and Humility

Yesterday was a day of being reminded of humility

1)  I exercised my right to make a fool of myself again.  Not intentional, of course - that "funny in my head, not so funny out loud" comments.  The fact it was directed at a friend made it all the worse.  What do you say in such a circumstance?  "I'm sorry, please forgive, I'm an idiot" is all you have, but it hardly excuses the fact that it was done in first place - and for the sake of a laugh, of all things.

2)  I also got to execute of my not so favorite tasks:  that of training.

Training, for those that have never done it, is not just the simple act of presenting the training.  It's creating the training and routing it for approval, insuring people are going to be present and possibly following up, and then sending out the documentation so all have a copy of what was being done.

At the end of the training, as people were dispersing, one of the attendees congratulated me and said "It's a thankless task, but someone has to do it."

The combination of these two things - trying to be relevant and funny when it's really more about me and the execution of seemingly "thankless" tasks made me realize that I have a deep and profound problem with pride - specifically, my own.

I am too often proud - too proud, in fact, to think that I should actually be living the life I am.  I crave recognition - not necessarily for what I've done, but for who I am - and am willing to risk that which should not be gambled for it.

Why?  Because maybe I consider what I do - throughout my life, not just my work - to be "beneath" me.  In reading through my journals last night (I have records going back to 1989), what I found is a constant theme of being unhappy with whatever I was doing and the allocation of time - both to suggest that I think that I should be doing something "more important" with it.

But the reality I have to face  - willingly or not - is that my own life is to be an exercise in humility.

Life is made up of a series of thankless tasks, with an occasional task which garners thanks mixed in.  I have reversed the two in my mind, thinking that "thankful" tasks are the norm and the thankless ones should be few and far between and are to be endured.

My response?  In the midst of a thankless task, I do what I can to generate the attention on myself - even if it requires mocking (I use the word advisedly) someone else or drawing attention to an uncomfortable fact to make myself look better.

(It's odd that I physically shudder when I write this - the truth, when presented in the light of reality, can be a harsh thing).

In plain terms, I need to adjust my thinking.

To perform a thankless tasks - indeed perhaps have a life made up of those necessary but overlooked things - is no less honorable than to do a life of tasks which garner that thanks.  The fact is that what I do for a line of work is essentially an entire book of these "thankless" events - things which have to be done and done well, but function beneath the consciousness of most employees.  The same is true in my life, of course - most of what I do outside of work is necessary and needs to be done without the expectation of reward.

Maybe this is a lingering effect of my birthday last week - the sudden realization that life will probably never be as you dreamed or imagined it.  But that is to look for an excuse for a behaviour which is clearly not acceptable (in Christian terms, it's sin). 

Sometimes it is simply the fact that we must accept that which we have given to do and do it, acknowledging from the first that it simply is something that will never be recognized but that the fact that no recognition will accrue is no reason for us to not do the work - or to find other ways to put the focus on us.

It was never really about us in the first place.

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