The Humbled Years

(I don't know if this sprang from my sudden remembering of the show The Wonder Years or what)

I think I had wonder years. I never called them that, of course, but I distinctly remember wondering what was at the end of the creek that ran through my back yard. I wondered how fast I could ride my bicycle down a sloping street in my neighborhood, especially if I started the run by walking the bike up to the top of somebody's sloping-even-more driveway at the top. I wondered if I might discover something new by doing something different, like walking around a certain tree on the way home from school *at* exactly 3:12 p.m. *on* a day when it was mostly sunny *and* I had put on my left sock before my right. I wondered if I'd suddenly drop down a portal into the ground, with a chirping sound effect like when Mario discovered a warp zone.

And then I had your standard awkward years, when you start to see that other people are somewhat like you, but not enough, or too much, and that some are better at some things than you are. Braces, glasses and a cracking voice didn't help, nor did a tendency to walk around certain trees two different ways, just to make sure.

There were omnipotent years, after the braces came off and I started to understand how to seem. Once I could hold my own against others I puffed up further, controlling conversations and challenging people's beliefs, which were all dumb and inferior and illogical. Some who knew me believed I was destined for greatness, just like they believed most everything else I said.

I'm not like that anymore. Now I am beginning to understand how small I am, how ignorant, and how small and ignorant I will always be. I am mortified by the certainty I hid behind during high school and college. I don't understand my place in the universe; I don't even understand my place in central Indiana. I am ashamed of all my complaining about being slighted by life, my crusades against trivial matters like auto insurance and punctuation marks.

I am silent around those who have disliked me for good reasons. I am hopeful that I will overcome the paralysis of not knowing which direction to face. I am patient in waiting for the chance to help make somebody else's life less difficult or more meaningful, the only two occupations I believe there are. I am holding fast to the hippocratic approach to action, and vigilantly watching to be sure that first, I do no harm. I am looking forward to seeing what comes after that.

I am humbled.

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