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Infallible

May 20, 2014

Infallible

So the start of this blog actually occurred a while back, towards the end of tax season. I had put in a 12plus hour day at work. My family was off enjoying the final weekend of spring break. I was heading home, driving, listening to Pearl Jam, of course, the song “Infallible” came on. (It’s on the album Lightning Bolt) This is the chorus of the song:

By thinking we’re infallible
Oh we are tempting fate instead”

It made me stop and think.  If there is one trait that I would love for my kids to have, that trait would be humility.

Here is what the dictionary has to say about the word infallible:

in·fal·li·ble
adjective
adjective: infallible:
incapable of making mistakes or being wrong.

I know that I have been guilty many times of thinking that I am incapable of being wrong or making mistakes.    Far too many times in my life do I think I know all of the answers, sometimes I don’t even wait for the question to be asked, before I provide the answer – the problem is that its my answer and not the answer.  That is the opposite of humility.

I thought more about the concept of raising kids to be humble.  I thought about all of the things that they now have to deal with, that I never had to growing up and I thought, man this will be challenging…  My kids are growing up in a time in which it is all about me.  When do I get mine!  The newest craze is the selfie where we tell the world, look at me, I am awesome! Watch me, I am the greatest, I am above it all.  I am like the great Icarus, who didn’t heed his father’s warning and flew too close to the sun and then plunged into the sea as his wax wings melted from the heat of the sun.  He was humbled all the way to the sea and to his demise.  Humility is hard to find in the world today.

Having coached many sports with my boys the last several years, I have found many kids are more concerned about their year-end trophy than playing and having fun.  The key is the prize at the end, because I deserve the prize!  Its not about the team, the accomplishments, its all about what belongs to me.  That is not humility, that is not showing grace and class.

Then I thought of what first comes to my mind when I think of the word infallible.  The first thing that came to my mind was the Titanic.  A ship that was perfect, without flaw, the greatest of its kind.  It was the unsinkable ship.  Something that was made far before its time.  Yet on its first voyage, it sank.  The boat did not have enough lifeboats installed, simply because it was thought too great to sink, thus why waste the time installing something that will not be needed?

“Pay disasters no mind
Didn’t get you this time”

The second thought that came into my head was Lance Armstrong.  He was a cancer survivor, a hero, a 7 time Tour de France winner, one could argue the greatest athlete alive at the time.  He started a non-profit that has helped millions.  (I actually have the Livestrong cancer journal and survivors guidebook- it actually is some really great materials)  He started a huge trend with yellow bracelets and brought cancer to the forefront.  He was considered above reproach for all of the good stuff he did.  Yet in the end, the truth was that no matter how hard he tried to be perfect, the reality was that he was human: flawed and broken.  And still even now when you hear him speak – recently in an Outside Magazine interview – he still sounds like he believes himself to be infallible.

“When progress could be plausible
In the verse we curse ourselves
By thinking we’re infallible”

I thought back to my past and thought about the times in my life where I felt really humbled.  Some things raced through my head:  Having to have my parents buy special pants for me in Little League because the largest pants provided by the League did not fit.  They were a close match, but not exact.  Trust me other kids notice those types of things.  Humbling….  Getting shot down my sophomore year when asking a girl to homecoming – yea that sucks.  Humbled…  Losing my Junior year in the league wrestling championship finals – to a kid I pummeled every other time I meet him, expect when it meant the most and I was the overwhelming favorite.  Humbling…  Sitting on the side of a mountain, being told that my Dad was going to succumb to cancer, then realizing that I am weak and without faith in God I am nothing.  Yes my concerns and issues felt pretty small in the presence of God.  Humbled…  Coming home after brain surgery and discovering that for a short time I had to have a bench and special shower head installed just to be able to take a shower.  Humbling…  Not being able to drive for 6 months because of seizures.  Be 100% dependent on others to get from point A to point B.  Humbled…  I could go on for a while.  But the point is that I could instantly recall many times where I was literally dropped to my knees due to things that showed me my real place in the world.  I would like to think that I have always learned my lesson from experiences, but the truth is that I know that I haven’t.  I know that I will be continually humbled, because I am human and for some weird reason, after some time will go back to thinking I have everything figured out and that I am always right.

So back to thinking about how I can teach my kids to be humble.  I thought back to my Dad and moments where he was humbled.  From when his body started to get worn down from years of laying hardwood floors, to watching him battle a knee infection that seemed to never go away, trying to quit smoking and failing multiple times, to seeing his business go through some pretty tough times financially, all the way to when cancer stripped him of most of his physical capacity.  Although I watched those times in his life and saw this person, whom I looked up to, be humbled numerous times by life, I don’t think it was something that I was ever taught.  There is a part of me that thinks Goliath isn’t done with his own lessons of humility for me.  Its not a question of if, but a question of when Goliath will humble me once again.

It is hard to think about how to raise kids that are humble.  For me humility is a lesson that I am continuing to learn through life’s experiences, not something that I was taught.  I know that some day I will have to watch my boys think that they are infallible, think they are invincible and then I will have to watch them come crashing down to earth.  I will have to be like Daedalus, the father of Icarus, who had the misfortune of watching his son pay the ultimate price for a lesson in humility. That thought in-itself humbles me.

“Our ship’s come in and it’s sinking
Of everything that’s possible
In the hearts and minds of man
Somehow it is the biggest things
That keep on slipping right through our hands
By thinking we’re infallible
Oh we are tempting fate instead
Time we best begin here at the ending”

DG

DH

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