Burgeoning by Tamara Natalie Madden
In my circle of deep, solid, soul searching folk, humility is a cherished virtue. Despite its definitive modesty, us servant leaders see humility as the goal to which you must always strive. Humility is the root in which to plant your dusty, persevering feet. It is the there in the Staples’ Singers anthem, “I’ll take you there.” Yes to accomplishments, reconciliations, awards and accolades. BUT, you must always accept and appreciate the kudos by baptizing them in Lake of Humility. It is similar to the process of checking your Halloween haul for razor blades, poison, or other never-named threats: each treat had to be touched by a trained inspector who could neturalize the potential of evil that lurked amongst the goodies. Like quality assurance, humility grounds your feet, keeping your big head from floating away in a haze of arrogance.
Sometimes in life though, there’s is a fine line between humility and humiliation. Sometimes, what keeps you grounded also rubs your face in the dirt. Case in point; 2015. thus far 2015 has served to remind me that the universe remains unimpressed with me. Landmarks leading to Humble Pie Boulevard include:
Grad school DENIED
Poetry submissions DENIED
Writers’ workshop application DENIED
Fellowship proposal DENIED
This, all while coaching my daughter to empowered sexuality and college admission, preaching gender equity and basic hygiene to my pubescent son, inefficiently managing choices that manifest as bills, and fending off emotional eating and functional alcoholism. Actually, I’m writing this while sipping homemade sangria and sucking on M&M’s so I suppose I’m not committed to life without high calorie vices. Rejection stings and often wants to deceive you into apathy. It wants to drain the color from your lips, infect your eyes with a cataract that diminishes blessings to entitlement. It hardens you to hope and discourages gratitude. But only if you let it. And frankly, it’s difficult to get pruny swimming in self-deprecation when you feel compelled to love others out of their own.
I know I live life with a limp. But I refuse to love with one. Rejection not only keeps the sweet scent of humility in my nose, it helps me celebrate the non-negotiable, consistent yes’s in a hot sticky sea of no’s. My health, though mired by the cruelty of the BMI scale, my blood pressure is stellar and I can dance my ass off (even on an extended remix). My mind, still tormented by what I can’t control, remains sharp and able to mill through the complex world around me. And my heart! My extravagant, burning heart, is scarred and bruised like a ballerina’s feet. Sometimes I think it wants to stop. It wants to stop trying because trying hurts; trying and hoping is risking and believing in things for which there is no proof. And that level of risk is excruciating when you don’t win. I rarely win big. But my hearts hopes I will. And that is enough to keep it beating another long day. So although my afro might hang low, my hope rides high. I work hard to love my self enough to stay humble. But I won’t ever stop the hustle.