The Bible has a lot to say about pride. The verse that comes to mind says that pride goes before a fall.
It does. I learned my lesson the hard way.
I’ll never forget visiting my tenth grade friend Bud and talking to his sister, who was a year older than I was and someone I wanted to impress, even though she was far out of my league. And what better way than by showing off the Spanish I’d been studying for a year or two at that time. I could certainly impress her with my linguistic abilities.
So I started reading aloud from the Spanish textbook I had with me.
She was impressed all right. But not the way I’d wanted or expected.
How was I to know she’d lived in Puerto Rico or some other Spanish-speaking place for years while her dad was stationed there in the navy? Or that her Spanish was far superior to the best I would ever be able to do?
Talk about red-faced…
I wish I could say that was the only time pride got the better of me. Sometimes it wasn’t even my fault–like the time an aunt of my mother’s took my mom and a cousin of mine and me out for a meal at a nice restaurant. Of course, none of realized this place would have a dress code or that what they kept on hand to give naive young men who weren’t properly attired would not only be as ugly as sin, but horribly mismatched.
So much for pride in my appearance. At least I can look back at that now and laugh, but I sure couldn’t at the time.
I must’ve learned my lesson from that. Several times in my adult life I’ve gone to Halloween parties dressed with a sheet folded into a triangle and worn as if it were a diaper. I dragged a blanket behind me and periodically drank milk from a baby bottle. If that had embarrassed me, I never would’ve done it more than once. I just wish I knew what had happened to the picture.
People frequently tell me what a good writer I am. And what a good guitarist. Yes, of course those compliments make me feel good, but I’ve read better writers and listened to better guitarists. So I don’t let it go to my head.
That doesn’t mean I’m not proud of my accomplishments, though. I really am. But I know better than to compare my talents to those of other people. I’ve learned that being myself my way is quite an accomplishment in and of itself.
Years ago I read an article in Guitar Player magazine about guitarist Phil Keaggy. (I’ve been a Keaggy fan for MANY years and still wouldn’t begin to know how to play like him.) But I was really impressed by something super-guitarist Eric Clapton said in the article (I hope I’m quoting him correctly): “I’d like be able to play like Phil Keaggy–and then not do so.”
Amen! to the idea of having talent equal to someone else’s but still being oneself rather than a copycat. I can truthfully say I’ve never tried to play or write the way someone else does, no matter how much I appreciate and enjoy their work. In fact, that’s what makes my songs and novels legitimate: they’re mine and no one else’s.
One thing that keeps me humble about my music is the fact that I normally only get to use my guitar playing and original songs at our church’s weekly nursing home ministry. Those nice old folks would probably love my music, no matter how good or bad. I doubt they would know the difference. And neither would they care. They seem to love and appreciate me–and that carries over to my music.
What are you proud of? Is it a problem or a reasonable pride? Please leave a comment.
I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.
“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.
My latest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out now. Look for it HERE if you’re interested.