Because of that, the last few weeks have been unbelievably humbling. I knew I wanted some measure of humility, so I aimed for it, but I also felt sure that I didn't want to be laid low. And yet I have been. The entire last month has made me realize that nothing in life is guaranteed, that success is both elusive and thinly-veiled conformity, and that I would do well to accept this station in life and do my best to enjoy and live up to it, rather than to view these pleasant experiences as means to various ends and, therefore, precarious.
The humble soul, you see, views good things that happen as either gifts or the result of good fortune. When one humbly accepts those gifts or finds himself/herself grateful for such good fortune, it generally follows that more good things are in store. Likewise, the person who views his/her current lot in life as below him/her and, therefore, necessarily temporary, will be humbled sooner or later by the knowledge that even this "meager" existence can come to an end. The person who accepts today's good and perfect gifts, then, doesn't view them as dependent upon his/her worth or effort; he/she is calm in the knowledge that today's gifts cannot be seized or handed in for better ones and that tomorrow's gifts or lack thereof won't be the result of his/her worth or effort -- they will once again be gifts or based on good fortune.
The person who understands that cycle -- who is content with today and never so arrogant as to demand more and more -- has figured out the secret to happiness. So, I'm seeking to understand it -- not just in theory, but in practice. It's far more difficult than I imagined, but I also think seeking to understand it will prove worth the effort.
Recent reasons to take stock and give thanks:
#388 - 394: Episodes 1 - 7 of the first season of Downton Abbey. What an amazing show, which teaches new lessons every week. Amazing.
#395: A sweet email from my mother, telling me not to worry about my birthday, because I'm gorgeous, talented and special. Everyone deserves to have a mother as wonderful as she, and it makes me sad that Mr. Wonderful no longer does...
#396: Sweet email from Mr. Wonderful on Monday evening. I was struggling...
#397: A best friend who refers to my birthday as "my own personal holiday" and talks me through my struggles every single night.
#398: Sugar is shedding her cloak of anonymity in six short days. Last night, she told me via Twitter that she will be wearing a hot pink dress. How amazing!
#399: Phone call with a close friend the other night, whose life is so different from mine that it put everything in perspective.
#400: Conversation with a friend today, who said to me, "Even if things didn't go 'smoothly', I'm sure you're doing a great job." And it was then that I realized that sometimes our effort and the outcome have no relationship. Bad things happen without warning or cause; thankfully, the same is true of good things.