The Art of Humility

Photo: Kyson Dana

Photo: Kyson Dana

There’s a humility that lives deep on the inside of confidence. Call it an acorn or a beating heart, a knowing that the hot sun will also come to its ending, that these full green leaves will soon turn to reds and yellows, and fall.

There’s a humility that lives deep on the inside of love. Call it the kind of welling up that happens when you see a child growing up right before your eyes, knowing she has her own life and that it’s the biggest privilege ever to be included.

There’s a humility that lives deep on the inside of making art and writing words. Call it a mystery, some blend of mind and matter and mysticism, intellect plus that which defies explanation or language.

There’s a humility that lives deep inside of each moment. Call it a breath. A swell. A contraction. Call it eye contact. Call it listening. Call it aliveness or awareness. Call it thank you.

Big Trouble

big trouble“You are in big trouble, mister!” Remember hearing those words as a kid?

Oh, I got into some trouble — almost, sort of — last Friday. I was embarrassed about it, in fact. I told Mani the next day, most so as not to let shame creep in. The “I totally know better” kind.

I’d pulled into a fire lane in front of the Starbucks on N. Pleasant — the Starbucks, mind you, that is located directly opposite the Amherst Fire Station. I put my hazards on and ran, yes ran, up the ramp into the store to get a latte, quick quick, before driving the 25 minutes to Aviva’s school for the Women’s History Month Showcase, in which she was performing.

I needed a latte. “Needed.” The same way I roll my eyes and try to teach Pearl otherwise when she says, “I need…” (with long “eeeeeeee”s) something utterly unnecessary. A new water bottle, for example. I’m training her, maybe. Trying to. And yet. I neeeeeeeeeeeeeded a latte. And I knew it was wrong and chutzpahdik (look it up) to leave the car there even for three minutes.

I admit it. I was acting as if I am above small laws like this — silly laws — and yet I am irate when cars don’t pull over for emergency vehicles and really this was no different. Oh the things we watch ourselves know better and proceed to do anyway!

So there’s my old boss’s boss in line ahead of me. He’s looking at his phone. I can’t tell if he is pretending not to see me or really doesn’t, but I take his cue and don’t say anything. And then I feel a presence and then I hear a deep male voice: “Amherst Fire Chief.” I turn instinctively and see him as I am hearing the words. “Move your car. NOW.”

He might as well have added “young lady” and pinched my upper earlobe as we walked out of there — my gaze straight ahead, not making eye contact, with him walking directly behind me, as if I was being marched to my room or the principal’s office after a stupid prank that could’ve actually hurt people. I did not even turn around or say a word when I got to my car, turned the ignition. Instead, I did a U-turn and headed south.

The embarrassment tingled in my belly and buzzed in my brain. But it was Friday night, so I sang. Sang Shabbat blessings to myself, to the air, trying to remember that I’m not really that big of an asshole.