There is a certain sort of person who prefers never to think of themselves as jealous. They might cop to envy, or admit that an aspect of someone else’s current circumstance is a goal they might one day like to achieve; but they will, in nearly every case, insist that the timing has not been right; that it will happen when it is meant to happen. 

Why? Because jealousy is embarrassing. It is, dare we concede, humiliating. The writer of this blog is just such a person. Perhaps some of you are as well. 

Why is our pride so precious? The Oxford Dictionary defines pride as “a feeling of deep pleasure derived from one’s own achievements.” So it is a sense that we are “better than” some contingent of our fellows? Then it ought to be dispensed with at once! “Humiliation is the beginning of sanctification,” said 17th century poet John Donne. And the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous speaks, too, of pride’s “leveling… which the [12 step] process requires for its successful consummation.” 

But that same dictionary defines pride also as a “consciousness of one’s own dignity.” And dignity as being “worthy of honor or respect.” Certainly, this is an unalienable right due us all! 

It seems only the edict of reason, then, that our lives must be lived somewhere in the middle place; that there is an order and it is cyclic; that we must apply the principles of good hygiene to our psyches just as we do to our bodies. 

Or, to use a more vivid and accurate metaphor; that we ‘muirburn’ or ‘swail’ our egos as we do our forests and grasslands, at risk for wildfires. That is to say, that we regularly and prescriptively set them on fire, in order to prevent annihilation. 

We cannot “wash” our egos with a “shower”; we must burn them to the ground. And no such flame exists in one’s own breast, for the superego cannot so separate itself as to become a villain to its host. No, the flame must come from without. 

So take some comfort, then, in the slings and the arrows of daily life; the insults and the slights; and particularly in the crippling humiliations. Yes of course your cheeks are flush! You are chock-full of the stuff of life!

For “pride goeth before destruction…” and “if you are willing to experience fear, disappointment, humiliation, and embarrassment… You become an unstoppable force of nature.” -Nicholas Lore

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