Of late, I realized that I have often been selfish, at times self-centered, and sometimes self-obsessed. Thinking of why and how this happens and why I feel the way I do, I'm not surprised to find that my expectations from myself on all these occasions are narrow and short-lived, and my ways and means of meeting/exceeding them are 'instant-gratifying'. Neither such expectations nor such ways and means are virtuous paths to peace. This knowledge is my most recent discovery from my self-appraisal. All self-appraisals are generally self-fulfilling prophecies - I was right - and one ends up feeling proud at the end of this mirage of achievement. But, pride is the first enemy to humility. That is about as enlightened as I feel now! And pride does come before the fall! I'm not proud now. I only need to think and be thankful for how good a life it has been for me. I now know what humility I owe the Gods/ Mother Nature/ Invisible Hand or whatever you want to call it, having fallen now and getting up. (We will come to this later)
But the problem here isn't with humility or pride, though I wish it were that simple. Then it's a simple matter of do's and don't's. Do be humble, don't be proud. Isn't it? It is not even about fortune or luck - fortunate that one is in a position to feel proud, or lucky that one hasn't been pushed to the limits of humiliation and made to learn humility from it. The broader problem is about the whining mortals caught between these two extremes. Broadly, I come across only two kinds of people -- the self-gratifying, narcissistic, pleasure-seeking, fun-loving and ultimately wasteful life-a-holics who think their life is the greatest show on the planet; and the patient, all-bearing, self-sacrificing, thankful-to-God-ly, silent gazers into a wise life beyond the apparent survival. In short, the 'proud instant-gratifiers' and the 'saints'. The ratio could be something like a million to one. (Are there still any saints around?) So, let's simply say that there is just one type for now, the former. I hope to find, some day, the people of the other type.
I do not want to see the world made up of only these two types. There would be a few more types, and I could find them if I want to, but I cannot take those paths right now. (again, we will come to this later). I do not identify myself with either of the above two categories. But I find I often straddle dangerously close to the boundaries of both, sometimes at such high frequencies that I feel I'm literally rocking the boat from side to side in a dangerous tide in the sea of people on either extremes. It could topple any minute, but regardless of which side it falls on, it is only going to go under. It is a period of intense excitement, thrill and anxiety, all simultaneously, and in that order. Excited that I'm on a rocking boat in a turbulent sea, thrilled that it could topple any minute, and anxious of what would happen if it did topple and where would I end up.
And then...the moment dawns on me. I stop rocking the boat, and the sea calms too. It is a moment of realization that I need to rise above these mere mortals not only because I can foresee the vanity of their short-lived, self-centered, instant-gratifying, material lives, but also because it is easier to set myself apart from them based on my ideals, than fit in with them based on theirs. I'm learning to be self-aware!