A couple days ago, I posted some thoughts I had about humility. I said there that while I understood the need for and goodness of humility, I did not know how to achieve it. In other words, I said that it is hard to be humble. Somehow, I restrained myself from adding this song to the post:
As it turns out, I did come across one way to be humble. I think I did, anyway. I was practicing guitar after I wrote that post. I’ve been struggling with the guitar since at least 2002. I taught myself to do the open chords back then, but I stopped messing with it once I moved to California because I wasn’t needed; all the players in the church were better than I. It came back into my orbit a few years ago, though. Last year I got an electric guitar for Christmas (a present from my wife; I gave her the money to buy it for me!). I got a few lessons as well and have been learning to do lead. I’ve gotten much better at it over the past year. I’m very pleased with how I’ve learned to “see” the scales on the fretboard and to understand enough music theory to get by, both of which were things I never thought I’d ever do.
But while I’m pleased with my progress, I’m not overly-pleased by it. I know that there are guys and gals out there who are lightyears beyond me and always will be. My guitar instructor said as much, in fact. He said there are seven-year-olds on YouTube who can smoke him, and if those kids can smoke him they can annihilate me. (I can’t show you the video in which he says this because it’s behind a paywall, but here he is doing a song with his daughter.)
What he further said, though, is that it doesn’t matter how better other people are than you, and that it also doesn’t matter how better you are than other people. All that matters is that you are growing. And I totally dug that.
Here’s the thing, though: I think I dug it so much because I know I’m not good at guitar (which you can see in the final video; I was forced to play an unfamiliar shape that night, which is why I made as many mistakes as I did, but truth be told, I probably would have made mistakes even if I had been playing a familiar shape). Knowing that I’m not that good, knowing that there is no way I can win any type of comparison or contest, frees me from ever thinking about being good/winning. It frees me to be happy in the moment.
I think what I need to do, then, is apply that same idea to the things I’m good at (or think I’m good at). If I realize I’m not nearly as good at those things as I think I am, if I realize I’m not really “good” at them at all and will never win any meaningful comparison or contest with them, then I might be freed from all pride and all vanity. Then I might be able to be humble, hard as it is. Then I might be able to do what I was made by God to do: perform the best I can and be happy with that.