The magic of humility
A few days ago, I had a little exchange with a friend. I was writing from southern India, and he was somewhere in Tanzania. He told me about his inspiring encounter with the people of a Masai village, and we agreed that there is something magical about people who still have a strong connection with the earth. So, we were left both wondering, what is it?
What is it so magical about people still strongly connected with the earth?
He shared his reflection in his blog in Italian. He acknowledges the magic of a relationship with nature that is, at the same time, a divinity to be worshipped and raw matter to be used to sustain the village’s daily life. As he wrote, from our mechanistic hyper-rational perspective, we probably perceive their ability to experience both sides of the whole as magic.
Reading his words, I felt something emerging but couldn’t phrase it. So, I kept carrying that question with me for a while, as I often do with questions I cannot answer. I’ve learned that if I let go of the urge to respond and stay with it long enough, the question usually unlocks something in me, which is not always an answer but is consistently the beginning of a new exploration.
So, I saved this question in a corner of my mind and kept it there for a while. A few days ago, while wandering through airports waiting for my flights, I had a lot of time to think. I reflected on my friend’s words, and the memories of the people I met during my pilgrimages in India came up. Suddenly, a word materialised in my head: humility.
The etymology of the word humility goes back to the Latin humus, meaning earth, ground. Humble, humilis in Latin, is someone “on the ground”. It is also fascinating to note that the word human originates in the Proto-Indo-European *(dh)ghomon-, literally “earthling, earthly being,” as opposed to the gods.
Our ancestors knew that we are creatures of the earth.
And people with a strong connection with the earth still remember that. They experience that connection every day.
So, I believe their magic comes from their humility. They are humble in the true sense of the word; they haven’t forgotten that they are creatures of the earth. That they are nature.
“We often forget that WE ARE NATURE. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves.” — Andy Goldsworthy
Humility is that virtue whereby human beings recognise that they are creatures of the earth, acknowledge their limits, shunning all forms of pride, haughtiness, emulation or overpowering. A virtue that reminds us that we are part of the whole and that only by participating can we fully realise ourselves. By practising humility, we remember that we are creatures of the earth, that we are nature, and by doing that, we reconnect with ourselves.
Humility allows us to embrace our humanity, to accept that we are not and will never be perfect, even though we can do incredible things. It is, therefore, a virtue that makes us open to learning, allows us to welcome mistakes as part of the creative process, and helps us be more compassionate with ourselves and others, increasing our ability to collaborate and foster creativity in others.
Isn’t that magic?