Sooner or later and in one way or another we all have to learn a little humility. That may be when someone shoves a colonoscope all the way around to your ileocecal valve, or when you need glasses or a hearing aid. Should we make it that far, some measure of infirmity awaits us all. If we are unprepared, then it is not so easy. If we accept our fate, things run smoother. We may have the pleasure of a catheter and piss bag awaiting us, who knows for sure? But if you are offended by corporeal indignity, it is harder to bear. What gets in the way is our Face or social self-image. We are pretty puny but many act otherwise. Surrounded by the accoutrements of our society and the trappings of our power, we swell. Put a powerful man alone at night in the jungle and you will soon get to see his mettle.
This Face is so very debilitating on many levels and it is something we defend as if it were real and made of the most precious substances in the known universe. And so often we cut off our nose to spite our face. Face gets in the way of love, of friendship and right relations. Our Face is kin to our status, another precious, so like Sméagol we become. Our status and our Face, can be besieged and taken from us. In the jungle or the endoscopy clinic, they are not of much use. Our perspective as social beings does not gel with the wider reality.
We are lucky here, there is not much light pollution and every night, without fail, I step outside and see the sky. When there are no clouds, I see the majesty of the universe. “Behold, Alan, the only thing greater than you!” to paraphrase Roots. Only I know that I am but a gnat’s fart in the cosmic scheme. I have seen the night sky in both hemispheres and dawn on top of Mt. Sinai. That sense of the stupendous, so easily lost in the hubris, grounds one. It sows a seed of some humility, which if nurtured grows. It is poisoned by the toxins of arrogance and pride, it withers easily. And it is by seed of humility that one starts to transcend this Face thing. Metaphorically or in real life, it is no bad thing to kneel and accept one’s limitations.
But until one starts to see how destructive this Face is, there is little if any motivation to do anything about it.
Here are some questions pertaining:
What is the cost of Face to me?
What price has it exacted of me in the past?
What damage have I done to preserve Face?