Sunday, December 2, 2012

on humility

On Humility:

Today is my birthday. All of the many happy birthday posts on my Facebook wall today have been touching and reminded me of one of the most humble moments of my life, a moment I have always deeply treasured. While a grad student in Buffalo, three thousand miles away from my home and family, I was struck with serious illness and spent many weeks in and out of hospitals. During one long three week hospital stay at Rochester's excellent Strong Memorial Hospital, I was surprised one day when about a dozen Buffalo linguist grad students all paraded into my room. They had car pooled up the hour plus drive from Buffalo to Rochester to visit me. In many ways I am a typical American male, I suppress my emotions, I minimize emotional feeling. But that day was one of the most touching moments of my life. And I felt humbled by the outpouring of friendship and love of my fellow students. I also remember being terribly conflicted because in some ways, I felt I didn't deserve this. It is so much harder to accept love than to give it. I don't know why that is. Several years later another Buffalo grad student was having serious medical issues and many of us were helping her with basic daily chores. After I had helped her with groceries one day, she was clearly embarrassed by her need to be helped. I remember sitting down with her, telling her the story of when the dozen grad students drove up to see me. I told her how difficult it was for me to be helpless in that moment, but how grateful I was that they did that for me. I told her we all must find a way to accept love in our lives. It is no easy thing. But once we can accept the love of others, it is then that we know our place. I am reminded of what The Wizard of Oz told the Tin Man: "A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others."

1 comment:

Mark said...

This is really a profound truth that many people have trouble with. It is a gift to another person to let that person do something for you.

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