Mary had me demonstrate a pose at one point (Don't think that means I'm 'all that and a bag of chips,' a LOT of people demonstrated poses). I'm no longer sure what the pose was. The specifics of that moment are lost to time. The moments that followed, however, those moments I remember clear as a plexi-display case.
I remember trying really hard to conceal the grin that plagues me when I get nervous. When I get emotionally overwhelmed one of two things happen, A) my eyes water and my face flushes, giving the appearance that I will burst in tears at any moment or B) I grin. The grin may seem like the preferable of the two options. Let me assure you it is not. At least my near-tears may be interpreted as nearly the correct emotion. The dumb-grin that spreads across my face, nearly meeting in the back of my head, leads to the general impression I am having a ball. It shows nothing of the horror going on in my brain. Sometimes there is even inappropriate laughter, which can be mortifying.
After the demonstration, I sat back down on my matt and all eyes were back where they belonged, Mary. Then a student asked a question that put eyes back on me, "Is she humble?"
I felt the red run to my face; this could be either tears or a grin, neither of which would work well. PLEASE be the tears, I thought. I put my head down to mask whatever was coming and especially not to feel all those eyes looking for signs of vanity. A million things rushed through my head. First of which was a very offended, "What the F*CK sort of a question is that!?!"
I quickly analyzed that thought and decided that what they were really pointing to was the mind-body connection, that the physical aspects are only half the posture. In that moment I may have messed up. Bad.
I am to this day terrified that I may have actually nodded to my own internal approval of the question. I can't be sure if my head actually did bob or not, but I do remember the terror of thinking it did. I froze realizing what the rest of the seminar had possibly just seen:
"Yes, but is she humble?" The class turns to see me, grinning like a cheshire cat, head bowed in apparent mock-humbleness, then I give a nod as if to answer the question myself. "Yes, of course I am humble, look at me, I even bow my head!"Mary tactfully answered the question saying she trusted that my trainer judged that I was. The seminar continued. I may have been grinning/crying the whole rest of the day had my body not gone into massive detox, giving me a headache that knocked out any chance at self-evaluation.
Since then I have attempted to determine what being humble means to me. Am I humble and could I ever be a humble person?
If I were to ask anyone familiar with me I am sure they would say no. I mean, really, I have none of the outward affectations of someone who is humble. I am loud, I am outspoken and I am particularly talented at taking charge (-10 humble-points for narcissism).
I've asked myself if a person like that can be humble? Do all humble people contemplate sullenly in baggy robes or is there room among their ranks for the boisterous? And is modesty by necessity self-effacing? Is it better to be modest even if it means sacrificing potential?*
It's been two years since that seminar and I still don't know what being humble means to me but I'm thinking about it and that's got to get me somewhere.
* I encountered this question in the book, Pillars of the Earth. It was posed to Prior Phillip, a very humble man capable of great leadership who nearly missed his life's calling because he thought it too ostentatious. It opened a new perspective on humbleness for me. I am still not sure how I feel about it.