THERE AIN’T NOTHIN’ HUMBLE ABOUT THIS ABODE
Today, I went for a solo hike over Milo’s Crossing.
As I looked across the arroyo at our home overlooking Cerrillos, with the majestic Ortiz Mountains in the distance, I couldn’t help but think, “There ain’t nothing humble about this abode.”
Despite the bad grammar, the sentiment was on point. The vista alone is as grandiose as our aspirations, so sometimes it’s hard to feel grounded when we’re so darn close to the clouds.
That said, this lofty feeling is not about positioning oneself above others, but simply the uplifting feeling that gratitude instills when we give thanks and praise.
And although I try not to consider myself better than others, I cannot help but feel that I am “better off” than many, if merely in terms of comfort and a willingness to experience discomfort in the form of inconvenience and for the sake of being challenged; in terms of our family’s grounding in old-fashioned values that often butt up against contemporary ones that would have us consume in excess and acquiesce to convenience; and in regards to our opportunity here to find grounding and purpose in a challenging life in God’s country in the middle of the Land of Enchantment.
Then there’s the big “backyard,”our often-present dome of blue skies and the magical big clouds; the “loud silence” and privilege of listening to nothing in the high mountain desert; the dry grasses that grow in the arroyos that look like golden desert urchins; the sight of fresh tracks of coyotes hot on the trail of a doe; and simply the feeling that I’m “back home” here at Hacienda Dominguez.
Any one these experiences makes me feel the largesse of my great fortune.
Hence, by acknowledging both our immaterial wealth and our above-average means, I’m hoping that by continually expressing my gratitude and likewise sharing our joy and optimism - that we might ward off the pitchforks.
But what is “humility” really? Is it a lack of resources - no that’s poverty. A lack of strength? Nope, frailty. How about a lack of motivation? Unh-uh, that’s just plain ol’ apathy.
If you ask the online dictionary you get a few answers: 1. not proud or arrogant; modest: “to be humble although successful;” 2. having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience; 3. low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; and 4. courteously respectful.
The definition of humility I’ve most often embraced is a combination of the first and the fourth ones here, for I don’t believe “success” of any kind cannot be coupled with humility, and one can still feel important and valued as long as you accept the importance and equitable or distinct value of others.
Moreover, I’ve long thought that a large part of being humble is based on the premise that “our peril is eminent.” Perhaps, not tomorrow, but ultimately and unpredictably - all within the realm of probability, nonetheless and allthemore, it can all be taken away within or without a moment’s notice - whether it’s our homes, our fortune, our beloved family, or simply our very own life-sustaining breath.
Enduring a pandemic for the last two years, being married to a doctor for ten, and having worked for a life insurance company for more then twice that - the spotlight shines brightest upon the latter.
Moreover, being Mexican and having been raised Catholic, I’ve learned that death is simply part of life. And as per our recent Día de los Muertos celebration, if you accept that death is par for the course, you can also learn to make peace with it and even celebrate it in the sense that it allows you to positively remember the lives lived of the beloved passed.
Hence, my understanding of humility includes the acceptance of our mortality, while embracing our humanity. And as a result, by embracing others we acknowledge that we are all cut from the same cloth, and likewise benefit from the life-affirming accentuation of the meaning and purpose of our limited time here on this lovely planet.