The other day I saw a sports figure on television, a man I had once considered very arrogant, begin to develop some humility. This man is well known in sports circles. He is accomplished in many areas of the sports world. He is a champion in the sport he has selected. But he is not a popular champion because he is viewed by many as egotistical and arrogant.
However, he suffered a serious illness about a year ago. The buzz in the sports world was that he might never compete again. However, after major surgery, he recuperated and started training to regain his title. His quest succeeded. Even though he met one of the toughest opponents of his career, he succeeded in regaining his crown.
When interviewed after the site before the announcer could ask him any questions he made a telling comment. He profusely thanked his wife and family, his doctor, trainer and his teammates for the support they gave him during his recovery. What he said was in stark contrast to his previous post fight statement. After the last fight he had berated his sponsor and made some other tasteless remarks. In my mind his latest comments showed that he had opened the door to humility.
As a recovering person I learn lessons when I see things like this. I know that for many years, early in my disease, I would get beat up by my addiction and end up homeless or in jail. But after a few months or years locked up, I would forget how far down I had gone. My health would return, I would regain my senses, and all the pain and misery would recede far into the background. Had I learned humility, I might not have returned to my addictions.
I believe that arrogance is the opposite of humility. And I believe that arrogance is linked tightly to the ego. And the ego is what separates us from the rest of the human race. One of the things I have learned since entering recovery in 1991 is that part of staying sober is the process of rejoining the human race. When I was in my disease, I thought I was an outlaw, that I was different, that I was unique. The only thing unique about me was that I had probably screwed my life up more than most of the people I knew.
I have heard it said in the rooms of recovery that to have humility is to be teachable. When we are in a state of humility, we are fertile ground for the seeds of recovery. We can hear the truths that are uttered at the podium. We can learn from the pain and misery we hear in the voices of those who have relapsed. We can fill our cup with the lessons of sobriety.