This post doesn’t have much to do with the quest for financial independence. Only distantly tied to personal finance in the sense that it put money in it’s place – which is nowhere compared to love, family, and health. It’s about my rollercoaster of a month, and the trappings of humility that came with that.
And a little bit of therapy for me to get it out in a post.
I’ve been humbled over the last month or so. And I don’t say that lightly.
In fact, the phrase “I am humbled” is a pet peeve of mine. Constantly misused by the most honored people after non-humbling shows of recognition for their accomplishments.
“Humbled”…to be inducted into the hall of fame? “Humbled”…to win an academy award? “Humbled”…to have these wonderful fans?
No – come on. That doesn’t make any sense.
I can tell you about what it is to be truly humbled.
Spared only after a frightening journey – with a renewed perspective on things. Humbled was me 6 weeks ago, sitting with the doctor as she told me that my son had a non-fatal, but life altering genetic condition. That sweet little guy (not yet a year old) could have brutal circumstances growing up.
There was typically a good chance for a normal life with this condition, but his case seemed advanced for his age. He may go blind. Likely would have learning disabilities. Tumors. Epilepsy. Might lose his leg. And many more options. A grab bag of random symptoms from a terrifying list of possibilities.
Crushed. Pained. Confused. Angry. Sad. Mainly though: powerless. And therefore humbled.
I sat there, head spinning, with the realization that there was nothing I could do. My innocent boy would simply have a difficult life. A sea of heaviness set upon me, and I felt helpless. Sure, I would pray. And of course be supportive – his whole life if needed. But nothing I could do to change my son’s fate. He would suffer and I could do nothing to stop it.
We had a few weeks filled with several medical opinions – all pointing the same direction. “80-90% chance of having it…just plan on it; go ahead and adjust.” And we adjusted. The sadness set in, and began transitioning to acceptance. Shellshocked, my wife and I received condolences and well wishes from our wonderfully supportive family & friends.
We went to the neurologist mainly to get confirmation – a final test, diagnosis, and mostly some direction of next steps. We were past praying for full healing- instead hoping for limited symptoms for our sweet boy. A handful of tests, then: “He doesn’t have it…at least not systemwide.” What? How? You sure? What?
We were delivered from a living nightmare by that simple sentence. And then by answers to our battery of disbelieving questions. Finally, we left with a mental understanding that he had been spared (unlike so many others at that same pediatric hospital) from the worst of it. Really, just mis-diagnosed. It took me 4-5 days to accept the good news emotionally.
He’s not out of the woods – still has a broken bone that isn’t healing correctly. Could be minor surgeries, extended period of braces, or major complications with a bad outcome. But that is one thing – and hopefully fixable. After the previous diagnosis, we can handle one bone.
Through the weeks of pain and the weeks of reflection since then, I have been truly humbled. Humbled to realize how much is out of my control. Humbled to acknowledge the pettiness that we fret over daily.
Many people suffer alongside loved ones who were dealt a bad hand. And many of them make the best of it. If you ever need to be re-grounded, walk through the pediatric neurology & oncology wing of your local hospital. I can’t keep my eyes dry just thinking about the experience.
I’ve been reset in a major way, and hope to keep the positive side of this harrowing experience. My goal is to keep a heart of gratitude ad humility. Be thankful each day for the things I have been blessed with having (and avoiding). Above all my family. Pray for the peace and humility to take the good and bad in stride. And ask for the wisdom to continue shaping the life of my family into the life we want.
And keep my quest for financial independence above the pettiness. I still see the life-altering possiblities of managing personal finances efficiently. More time for learning, creating, teaching, and building relationships with friends and family. Freedom to build life on my terms. But the money is not an end unto itself. And our successes are not a reason for pride – only for gratitude.
I’ll get back to finances, numbers, savings, and tips soon. It’s been a big couple of months – and debits/credits didn’t play a big part.
(Except we did also buy a new house…more to come on that, as well as a quarter-end tomorrow)