Notes on Humility

I lost someone recently. He left this universe suddenly, unexpectedly, in a shocking, violent, and traumatic way. This someone was the most important thing to me, as was I, to him, and he died in my arms. I lost him in the span of five seconds, and it has upended my life in ways I can barely grasp without excessive meditation and long, wailing sessions of howling sobs. This was not just the loss of someone who matters more to me than anything else in the world. It was the loss of my heart.


In the aftermath, I have craved gentleness, stillness, care, and protection from the barbed wire fence of society as we know it today. I find myself ducking my head, looking at my hands, wearing a perma-smile of carefulness. I find myself wanting to let others go first, let them be right, even when they may actually be wrong. I find myself surmising that their wrongness may also be right and therefore who am I to say differently?


I find myself seeking comfort in the smiles of New York City grocery store clerks, seeking hope in loving texts that may never come, seeking relief in the potential of one small act of kindness from an unlikely source. In my desire for understanding, I search the iris of another and strive to find connection there, I try to touch upon the shrunken pupils floating in eyes almost shut so that I may heal with the pain concealed there, hold the untold suffering that may drive the coldness which thrives there.


And yet, underneath my attempts, swimming like an insistent little tadpole, is anger. It’s rage, really, that bubbles and growls like a cauldron of regret and sorrow. I recognize, more than anything, this tagline of grief, and I recognize that no one is to blame. I work to process each spasm without losing sight of reason, without lashing out in my irrational belief that someone else can cause my pain. But the anger is there nonetheless.


However. With each new bout, I have begun to notice, in the corner of my stricken mind, a window. It is small, and unobtrusive, but its pane is clear and true. It is familiar, but not-yet-well-known. It is new, but it has been there all along. I find myself reaching for it, now, even in the middle of winter. My heart flutters at the sight of it, my hand reaches to unlock its clasp. I open it, then, and as I do, sunlight floods the room, fresh spring air brightens my nostrils, even now, even in January. I give it a name: Humility.


Humility.


It is still and silent. It is gentle. It generously gives and asks for nothing in return. It cries with me, laughs with me, and steadies me in the face of both. Humility is the gift which is always waiting to be opened, through any encounter, through any experience. Humility is the higher self, the lower self, the soul, the spirit, God, love, pain. Humility is the essence of humanity, the base element of life, and the hardest, sometimes, to see.


In the enormous swells of imbalance, the waving of the arms, the stumbling of the feet, the trajectory of fear and/or possessiveness, the thickheaded, whirling confusion of rage, humility prevails, if I let it. Humility, which lights the way when there is extreme pride and lights the way when there is extreme shame. Humility, which reminds me that the gain of one is the gain of the many, and in that oneness, we are all humble and free. Humility, which shows that loss is shared by all, that there is no “alone”, that pain is not singular, that it must be embraced in order to witness the heart. Humility, which reveals that love and pain must share the real estate of the body, and must work in tandem to ensure growth and evolution.


With humility, I accept this difficult truth. I surrender to it, at last.


Humility, which brings meditation, rather than blame, solace, rather than aggression, presence, rather than expectation, introspection, rather than attack. Humility caresses each feeling as it traces the path of the blood through the veins. It chaperones the ache that fills the chest, the victory that dances through the torso, the guilt that permeates the gut, the relief that tugs on the arms and feet, the sword that pierces the solar plexus, the vibrancy of ecstasy that pulsates through the throat and into the crown.


Humility lights the way. Suffering. Fulfillment. Desire. Satisfaction. With humility, the anguish and the comeuppance and the anxiety and the hope arise, and I breathe. Humility breaks down the walls of defense. Humility opens the way to eternity. Humility opens the way to life.


I find that, in my grief, humility has become a kind of savior to me. It clears the way for my sorrow, allows me to love it, feel it, be it, without blame or attack, even, and especially, when my sorrow presents itself as rage. When I find the humility within, when I hone in on its willing, angelic presence, I feel I have discovered the meaning of life, of loss, of good-byes, of change, of the seismic shifts that bring me closer to who I am. Humility, which can never return me to the past, returns me to the present like nothing else can.


Thank you, humility. Please don’t go away when the grief is resting and the pain has dulled. That is my last request to you: Please remain.