Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pride-Aholics, Not-So-Anonymous

Pride scares me. I think it's because I know I have it, and I know it finds its way into every pore and fiber in my being, like sand that clings to the crease between your toes after a few hours at the beach. You find it rolled up in your pant legs, clinging to your scalp, hiding in your pockets and waistband, sticking to the nape of you neck. You think you've brushed yourself off completely, but somehow those little grains just keep appearing long after the fun has gone.
The old guys have always said pride is the worst of the vices. It's because it works in that inner part of us that no one sees and is hardest to control, and yet plays out in every other area- making our greed into a hunger for power, our promiscuity, a way to conquer, our self-deprecation, an obsession with our worth that turns into a navel gazing neglect of others. The old guys are right about a lot of things... things the new guys with their Barnes and Noble bookshelves don't always see as clearly, being too up close and satiated with the present.

Jack Lewis isn't that old in terms of the history of writing and thought on these matters. But he is at least dead which makes me a little more apt to listen to him. Ah, the wisdom of a dead sage, whose remnants are only left to us in print and scrawls, not podcasts and shiny book deals. If you think you aren't proud, Jack says, then you know you are very proud indeed. The first step is admitting that it's there, and a biggish step too. The other thing about pride is to know that it can take many forms. The man or woman who is quite full of themselves, being preoccupied with their own amazing qualities is as full of pride as the man who is full of self-loathing and disdain, thinking always of his misfortune or mistakes, or the general displeasing nature he possesses. The trick is not to think of yourself at all. And to think of those around you instead. This is a steep litmus test... and because I fail it so miserably is the reason I say that pride scares me. I know it's all through me.

It's hard not to think of everything in relation to mothering these days. You understand don't you? It's just that I'm thick with the work of it, though I'm not sick with the work of it, and that is a thing of grace and beauty that doesn't seem quite normal or natural at this point. But I'm thankful.

The pride, it works its way through everything I do as a mother. It nags at me when I am grumpy and tired and show my impatience with harsh tones and misguided consequences. It makes me lament what I've become and hang a long face because of all my mothering shortcomings. It comes soaring in when things are going well. When we pull off a lemonade stand for instance, or have a fun day with creative ideas. It parades around with it's plumes held high making me think I'm such a grand ole thing, mother-of-the-year and I hope they all noticed kind of thing. It's ugly to admit, even here. But I know I'm not the only one... it appears to be a crisis with humanity. And yet, just because we all deal with it doesn't really make me feel any better. It's still ugly and bitter to the core and I want to be rid of it. 

I'm looking out at fog and it muffles my brain, makes me think in cliches, and I'll throw one down now. The way to cut through all this pride-heavy air, this thick-with-self thinking is to look for the Lamp. I can see it even now, it's brightness cutting sharp against droplets that threaten to mask it. But the Lamp Light is strong and I turn there for the Way. Barnes and Noble says to know and love yourself first, and there you'll find happiness. But the Lamp shows me different. It says pride cuts me deep, and wounds me and then others. The Lamp guides me narrow and straight, a path not easy to take- but it's clean and it's true, not things easy to come by these days. It says to forget about yourself, to love God and love neighbors. And who are your neighbors? Anyone but yourself really. 

Somehow I trust the Lamp Love, the words that promise if you love others first, you'll become more lovely than you ever imagined. But the first step is admitting. 

"Hi my name is C and I am a pride-aholic" Welcome C. Now forget about it and go show some love.


  1. You're my Yoda, too.

  2. hmmm... ive been having just this kind of day. thanks for the thoughts.

  3. Thanks for holding the lamp up in this foggy world which is our own. The thing I always hate is how when I try and secure myself in with pride, how isolated and alone it feels. Strange how one proud thought can divide more than thousands of miles. I love you sista.