Modesty In Spirit

RITZ 32772e4e0d0e13d02ac85fca964d0864Plain and simple, I admire humility. A little thing that happened years ago while checking into a hotel jumps to mind. The lodging was one of those five-star types (Ritz Carlton) where my company meeting was being held and not the type I’d personally pay the price for. Being second in line I was just behind a couple in their late 70s or early 80s. Both were dressed nicely: her with well done hair wearing a simple, but lovely, well fitted dress; him in khaki pants, golf shirt and a navy blue blazer. Their luggage looked well used and was a common brand like American Tourister on Samsonite; not pricey designer bags.

As the old couple checked in I admired how sweet and kind they were to each other. Eye contact seemed to result each time into smiles. They were cordial to the counter staff and understanding when told their accommodations were not ready. They said they’d have drinks in the bar while they waited and asked if someone could let them know when their room was ready.

Two things added up in a flash: it was seeing the man reach to sign with his left hand revealing a watch I know cost tens of thousands soon after the desk clerk had said it was the “Presidential Suite” that was not ready. Then noticing the diamonds around the lady’s neck I easily concluded these were wealthy people, but not just any sort of the very well off. They were the rare “humble and happy” kind of rich folks who still loved life and most everyone in it.

It was the humbleness of the couple I admired then and still do today. When their ‘suite’ was not ready I didn’t hear “do you know who I am?” or “let me see the manager” or something of the sort. I am certain they could have “thrown their weight” and gotten plenty of attention had they desired to. Instead the older man and woman were understanding and like “nice normal folks” might be.

Humility has nothing to do with depreciating ourselves and our gifts in ways we know to be untrue. Even “humble” attitudes can be masks of pride. Humility is that freedom from our self which enables us to be in positions in which we have neither recognition nor importance, neither power nor visibility, and even experience deprivation, and yet have joy and delight. It is the freedom of knowing that we are not in the center of the universe, not even in the center of our own private universe. David F. Wells

The couple I encountered at the hotel check-in desk long ago defined the word “humble” just as I found its meaning in the dictionary: modesty in spirit, behavior and attitude; not arrogant or prideful; unpretentious. To me humility is one of the most endearing qualities a person can have. I am grateful for the example of the “humble rich couple” that today still lives vividly in my memory.

A great man is always willing to be little.
Ralph Waldo Emerson