Humble Pie

I celebrated my 45th birthday a few weeks ago. Unless cancer or cardiac disease strikes me down or an accident claims me prematurely, the statistical probability that I will live till the age of 90 is quite high. I believe I have lived a full life till date, but it’s been a long 45 years with all it’s ups and downs. I can’t even begin to fathom what it will take to get through another lifetime of 45 years…it’s scary.
The issue is not just the number of years that I might actually land up living. It’s the fact that these years will be considerably different from the ones that have gone by; sooner rather than later, as younger blood emerges, I will no longer continue to be the top dog that I currently am; the children will grow up and leave; old friends will dwindle in number and the body will start misbehaving in tiny innumerable ways.
Whatever and wherever I may be these days, the contemplation of another 45 years is instantaneously humbling, bringing me down to Earth virtually immediately, deflating without any further ado, whatever-sized balloon I might be at that point in time!
Humility isn’t easy to come by. The ‘do you know who I am’ and ‘don’t ask me I know everything’ syndromes are getting to be more and more pervasive. And this, despite the fact that we don’t really know much about a good number of things. We don’t even know what causes Alzheimer’s disease forget about even starting to know what leads to a conscious state of being. You’d think that this lack of knowledge and understanding by itself would make most of us more humble, but our bubbles of self-delusion are unfortunately only growing larger and larger, day by day.
The New York Times last week Wednesday carried the story of a lady with Stage IV breast cancer that had metastasised to her bones. She was given less than 2 years to live. She is now alive for 17 years and none of the expert oncologists really knows why. The human body can still stump the most brilliant minds and hands; any doctor who doesn’t understand this is just plain self-delusional and blinded by the fog of a self-engineered God complex.
It’s not just doctors, but experts in virtually all fields and disciplines, who need to acknowledge their lack of answers to so many questions and puzzles in life. Else, why would the vast majority of economists, financial pundits and experts not have seen the recent financial crisis coming? You’d think that at least after this fiasco, all these experts would have learnt their lessons, but I don’t think humility is a quality that is taught in business school.
Nature humbles us all the time, but we just don’t learn. The recent volcanic eruption was in Iceland, but people were stranded all across the globe, farmers in Kenya were on the verge of bankruptcy, conferences and meetings were canceled overnight and no one even knew how long this would continue, some experts even talking of an ash cloud for 2 years.
No wonder that pride and conceit, individual and collective, have always had a short shelf life, a lesson, which if both the Modi’s had taken to heart, would have perhaps averted their current problems. Each one of us at some point in time has had to eat crow. What makes the great among us stand out is the grace and seemingly effortless humility with which they accept both, success and failure equally, without letting either get to their heads. I know a few such people. Do you?

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email is never shared.Required fields are marked *