Tuesday, February 02, 2016

The value of humility and kindness

I’m certain that nearly everyone reading this had the two concepts in today’s headline drummed into their childhood heads by parents and other “significant” relatives. Problem is, as we grow older, we tend to forget many of the teachings of our younger years — especially those that are not always convenient to follow.

I’m equally certain that nearly everyone has heard stories of arrogant celebrities and other well-known people who display neither of the above traits. I have been around a number of them over the years, both as a musician or author or just as a member of the general public. My first urge is to shake them hard, perhaps smack the worst offenders upside the head and point out that they’re no better than anyone else. Self-importance is a really despicable “illness” to have.

My motto in life has always been The Golden Rule (please look it up if you don’t already know what it is) and I honestly do try to live by it. Now, I’m also a little fish in the great big sea of Canadian book publishing, which in itself is a pretty small thing, so you know where I’m at in the great pecking order. I once got asked in an interview, “What would be the first thing you’d change if you suddenly found yourself with a bestseller?” I answered back with an non-change: “The way I treat people.”

Now I’m not making myself out to be some kind of saint here. In actuality being nice and humble are not big things. For the humbleness part, I’m not very important anyway, am I? I do know that I’m very good at quite an array of things, but not earth-shatteringly so. No one will remember me for my incredible virtuosity on any instrument, nor for the quality of my prose. What they will remember me for (I sincerely hope) is that I was “a nice guy”. Sure, I fail at this from time to time (who doesn’t), but that doesn’t mean I’m anything except inconsistent in my successes.

It’s doesn’t take any work to be nice/friendly and the rewards can be great. That payoff can be something as small as a smile from someone or by knowing you improved someone’s day even a tiny bit.

And then there’s karma. I’m a firm believer that bad deeds result in bad karma and that someday, the bad thing you did to someone will be revisited on you — and probably in a worse way. Why tempt fate, eh?

How do I know that bad karma will result in a negative reckoning of some kind? Well, it’s happened to me. But I know it from observing first hand celebrities who have been on the top of the heap and perhaps let arrogance get the better of them. What happens  in the long run? Their celebrity runs its course and guess what they’re left with? A whole lotta nothing except for the memory people have of their bad behavior.

By the time that happens, there’s not a heck of a lot you can do about it. And in and of itself, that’s really a sad thing.

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