Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Executive Shoe Shine

As a child, my mother taught me how to recalibrate when I felt proud of myself or thought I was better than the rest of them. She would point to the little ants that marched in their relentless single files around the kitchen in summertime and say "Do you think any one of them is better, smarter, prettier, more talented or richer than the rest ?" When I thought about it I knew it was impossible to tell them apart let alone judge singular attributes.

"Just remember that's how all of humankind appears to someone who is looking down upon the Earth from very high above. We are only so many ants milling away with nothing so remarkable about anyone that they would stand out in the grand scheme of things. Whenever you lose your humility think about the ants and being one of them" she would say.

It is a lesson that has stood me in good stead to this day though I must admit I have often slipped and imagined myself to be this spectacular ant quite unlike any other and in as such deserving of a lot more attention from my Maker than the "rest of them". But the recalibration lesson does kick in soon thereafter and sets the measure straight.

Reading the poem Executive Shoe Shine by Mary Jo Salter made me smile and think about the Master of Universe ants I see around me who have "the silver snail of a cell-phone earpiece hooked to his ear hangs on his every word" and therefore make the rest of us wonder "Could he strike us a deal with the weather ?". This could almost be a poem about Sherman McCoy.


Anonymous said...

Isn't this post a contradiction of one of the previous notes about why Asian children have a reduced levels of self-esteem compared to their american counterparts.


Heartcrossings said...

Sharda - I think humility and confidence can co-exist. The lesson for me was to not feel entitled and learn to see how everyone had equal value in the large scheme of things. The other post was about Asian parents not doing enough to build confidence in their kids by setting a very high (if not impossible) bar and not showing enough appreciation for their achievements. Self-esteem is a function of confidence whereas braggadocio is that of pride. There is a big difference. Sometimes in the West, parents may go a tad overboard and as a result see their kids display more of the later and less of the former. Us Asians often do our bit about humility but we fall short on the confidence.