Humility Q2

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 13, Q2

Humility: “Imitate Jesus and Socrates”

Personal notes:

  • Think about others;
  • Think about where we are;
  • Find happiness here.

My daughters and I sat on our porch blowing bubbles; gentle morning sun warmed us while a fresh breeze kept us cool. Birds flew on their way to water, a few cars ambled to work, and a dog walker, holding more leashes than one person was meant, herded her pack. An unfamiliar dog walking with its owner caused quite a stir and 6 or 8 herd dogs angrily barked at the bearish Shih Tzu. My daughters stopped at the noise, put down their bubbles, and eyed the scuffle – they are fascinated with puppies. Watching the girls watch the dogs, I smiled as my youngest reached out her chubby little hand and patted the small of my oldest’s back to give comfort. In return, my oldest put her arm around her sister and hugged. There they stood, wrapped together, virtuosos enjoying a morning performance. No one has taught me more about humility than my girls; especially when I see their love, and especially when I hurt it.

The births of the girls were religious experiences. Amongst the sterile hospital room and the blood and the hustle, when my first child arrived I was ushered anew into the world with her. A page was turned and in its place was a chapter that was not there before. My second daughter’s birth carried with it a surprising contentment; she brought with her the concreteness of family. We became whole.

My wife and I love them both dearly, and we sacrifice everything for our family: ambition, sleep, health, money. Yet there are days when all that we give is not enough and our reserves run dry. On those days I loose my cool, usually when the girls are screaming, whining or fighting, and snap and yell, drag them to timeout, and walk out of the room boiling. 15 minutes later, when composure returns, I feel horrible; their terrified innocence is heartbreaking. 

When I yell at my girls I scare them, I injure, and sometimes I injure others too. This weekend, exhausted and stupid, I lost my cool with my mom and my wife. Maybe it was the 4am discussion with my oldest daughter or the 530am alarm clock that is my youngest, but I lashed both mom and wife with the most hurtful of weapons: words.

Was I wrong? Completely. I did not even have the weak self-assurance of being right. I was wrong and hurtful and humbled in the worst way; the wrong kind of humbled. This week is about Humility, and one day I hope to stumble upon the secret of pure humility, with its graciousness and calm and understanding. The humility that is with us at the beginning, avoiding a fight, not the humility that is with us at the end after we have been humbled by guilt, sadness and tempers. 

This weekend I apologized to everyone but had the hardest time with that other great virtue, forgiveness; forgiving myself proved impossible. As for my girls, they’re both playing, wrapped in my shirt, giggling that the shirt is as long as a dress, and singing “have another beer in Mexico.” Today they both humbled me and forgiven me in the span of seconds; there is still much to learn from them.


Next Week

Ben Franklin’s 13 Virtues: Week 1, Q3

Temperanceeat not to dullness; drink not to elevation

Personal notes:

  • Limit alcohol;
  • Reduce sugar;
  • Improve meal intake

Hello old friend, your timing is impeccable. After a summer lubricated by boat drinks, beer and BBQ, Temperance could not arrive soon enough. My waistline welcomes you.