Taking myself too seriously
I was hyper-focused on getting my lines just right.
As part of the children’s choir at our church, I was therefore part of the special performance we had coming up for some special occasion. Christmas? I’m not sure, but we were all dressed as toys, so that’s probably what it was.
Anyway, the “big” number was all of us singing, “I just thank You, God, for making me ‘meeeee’.”
Different lines, sung by different children, proposed hypothetical situations in which we would still give praise to our Creator for the way He made us.
The only two lines I remember were, “If I was a robin in a tree, I’d thank You, Lord, that I could sing.”
And the other line was mine.
I worked on it hard. I concentrated. I can still remember squeezing my hands into fists and holding them at my sides, staring at our director with a fierce gaze until she pointed at me to do my thing …
“If I was an elephant,” I started, but the way it was pronounced had to rhyme with “trunk,” so I sang it — yelled it, practically — was “If I was an el-eh-FUNT!”
Then came the dramatic part!
I raised my right arm like a majestic elephant raising its trunk and sang/yelled, “I’d thank You, Lord, for my big TRUNK!”
And lowered my arm as everyone laughed.
Laughed? This wasn’t funny. This was my big performance, my big shot, my serious demonstration of my Shakespearean acting chops. Did they laugh at Olivier? Did they laugh at Bela Lugosi? Did they laugh at Laurel and Hardy?
OK, bad example.
I complained to my mother after the performance that everyone was laughing at me. She assured me that they were appreciating the humor of my performance, and laughing “with” me, not “at” me.
That didn’t make sense to me, because I wasn’t laughing.
Though it didn’t click with me right away, it did eventually dawn on me that I was taking it all way too seriously and that it was supposed to be funny. Because I delivered the line in a funny way (though unintentionally) it served its purpose.
As soon as the realization hit me, I shook my head at my own dimness, poured a cup of coffee, lit a cigar and sat down to write this column.
It didn’t really take me that long to get it, but I wonder sometimes how often I’ve taken myself way too seriously, and NEVER figured it out.
If I spend too much time thinking about it, I can remember quite a few moments that make me cringe as my own ridiculousness.
I take a lot of things seriously, but I shouldn’t take myself too seriously.
We should always be careful not to put too much stock in how great we are. There’s always something or someone that can bring us back down to reality in a hurry.
Don’t think too much of yourself, but don’t think too little, either. You are worth enough.
That’s something you can take seriously.
News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.