Ever listen to some of the self-styled savants who populate the phone lines on sports talk radio? Once a professional sports contest is concluded, notably a home team loss, they rush to judgment and second-guess managers and coaches, exercising uncanny foresight into the past. Nobody has broken the news to these innocents: Being a spectator doesn’t make you a skipper.
Being an onlooker doesn’t translate, ipso facto, into being a doer.
Joni Mitchell’s plaintive lyrics come in handy here: “I’ve looked at life from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow, it’s life’s illusions I recall, I really don’t know life at all.”
We nurture in ourselves the illusion that we know more than we do, that we are more than we are. Confidence is to be commended. Hubris not so much. In the particular—and peculiar—time and place we inhabit, one of the most underrated and overlooked human assets is humility. Dubious, bloated opinions have crowded out those three little words we’re either too afraid or too weak to utter: I don’t know.
So, let’s follow Joni Mitchell’s teachable moment by looking at both sides now, and seeing if we can’t precipitate some humility from the clouds that cloud our vision…
Being smart doesn’t make you wise.
Being rich doesn’t make you happy.
Being successful doesn’t make you virtuous.
Being above it all doesn’t make you heavenly.
Being foolish doesn’t make you funny.
Being immoderate doesn’t make you whole.
Being loud doesn’t make you heard.
Being magnanimous doesn’t make you charitable.
Being popular doesn’t make you nice.
Being cool doesn’t make you cool.
Being a gourmand doesn’t make you a chef.
Being compassionate doesn’t make you flaky.
Being spiritual doesn’t make you holy.
Being angry doesn’t make you righteous.
Being righteous doesn’t make you right.
Being tall doesn’t make you more.
Being short doesn’t make you less.
Being an analysand doesn’t make you a psychoanalyst.
Being good-looking doesn’t make you attractive.
Being glib doesn’t make you a statesman.
Being a parent doesn’t make you an educator.
Being hungry doesn’t make you poor.
Being poor doesn’t make you pitiful.
Being wrong doesn’t make you weak.
Being different doesn’t make you strange.
Being indifferent doesn’t make you strong.
Being a taxpayer doesn’t make you a policymaker.
Being grateful doesn’t make you gracious.
Being there doesn’t make you care.
Being alive doesn’t make you thrive.
Being born doesn’t make you worthy.
Being Monday doesn’t make you a holiday.
Bruce Apar is chief content officer of Google Partner Agency, Pinpoint Marketing & Design, as well as an actor and a regular contributor to several periodicals. Follow him as Bruce the Blog on social media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-275-6887.
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