19 December 2018


Do not be humble! It’s a waste of time. You’ll be walked over, stomped, pushed away. This is my advice for today. Take it seriously from me as an old hen.

 To start with here’s the definition given by Urban Dictionary on line:

True humility is to recognize your value and others value while looking up to see there is far greater than ourself  into who we can become, who others can become, and how much more we can do and be.

It’s about remaining teachable, knowing that you do not have all the answers.

It’s being really good at something and knowing how good you are without feeling the need to announce it to the world.

When I left my country, France, in 1963 I was 19. I had finished matriculation with philosophy, spoke, read and wrote English and German on top of my native language French. I had succeeded in obtaining a car driving licence after trying my hand at my grandfather’s tractor from the age of 10. I could ride a horse, swim and hold a conversation on politics or religion… I had been a keen map gazer at boarding school and knew a fair amount of geography. I could also ride a bike… In other words I was quite smart!!!

Yet when I arrived in Haifa, Israel, on a migrants boat and was welcome by my pen friend’s family I never boasted of being so smart. There I knew nothing, not the language, not the culture as I was not Jewish, not the manners of the kibbutz. Nothing. I knew nothing and had to learn everything from scratch like a small child.

When Racheline picked me up to travel to where she lived, although we were of the same age and had corresponded for a few years beforehand, she behaved with me as if I was her younger sister. With patience she explained things, showed me things, and trusted me completely. However she never asked about my background, education, family or personal capacities. I remained her nerdy younger sister for ever.

When I arrived at the kibbutz in Galilee to work I never mentioned my background and capacities either.  There was an Arab guy on horseback riding around once I remember. My fellow worker from England asked the guy if he could try his horse. Which he did. I never mentioned I could ride and never asked to have a go. Apparently according to my English friend worker it was quite different.The Arab rider had only one rein to guide his horse.

The kibbutz where I worked and stayed for a year had been founded by a group of German speaking young Jewish people from Austria. As at the beginning I could not speak Hebrew they spoke to me in German. I never boasted I mastered three languages. In Israel everybody masters a number of languages anyway.

So I can say I had been humble, showing humility in my dealings with other people. Did it help? It did not help. With my humble attitude I once was declared a spy by Racheline’s elder sister. It didn’t matter much. And actually I don’t know if it is connected with my humble attitude. I thought so. But boasting was not my way anyway.

When I arrived in Australia and went for a job in federal administration I did not boast, just replied to questions. I got a good job as clerk in a federal government department. (yes, I’ve said it before!) It was seen as quite something for a woman, a married woman at that. I was a clerk, not a typist. My job was to compose letters answering the public mail about the statistics of Australia. I would give my handwritten letters to a typing pool. A good job indeed. The next position up from that was to become a secretary. Should I have boasted I could do so much more? so much better? No way. A married woman remains humble. Period.

It goes on like that right throughout my life. So now an old grumpy grandmother I boast! Yes ma’am, I’ve done a lot and single handed with a child to bring up too.

I am totally bilingual, i.e. have two languages wrapped up in two cultures present in my head at all times so that I don’t know which language of French or English I’m talking. I can handle German and have knowledge of Hebrew which I once could speak and write, some knowledge of Fulah which I once understood when spoken. And, last but not least, I am learning Russian. I can now slowly read cyrillic.

What else? I can boast of having sailed across the South Pacific, not safely on a liner, but as a crew member with various yachties. I survived a couple a typhoons at sea. What else? I survived being hungry stranded on an island in between crew jobs.

I can boast that once or twice, in New Caledonia and New Zealand, I was the tail end guide of horse riding bush rides for tourists. I survived falling badly off a horse twice. A scar on my forehead can witness.

What else? I can boast driving on my own across the Australian continent and across the European continent… hm… no, not quite across it. Actually it’s my next big idea and project. 

I’ll stop this list. But hear me! Do not refrain from boasting what you’ve done and what you’re capable of doing.

Oh I forgot... you see I'm not used to boasting really. I'm learning! I also studied at university, three years in France for a B.A. in ethnology and one year as a post graduate towards an M.A. in America. I can cook dinner too. I can tinker with a hammer and nails. And I am a self taught potter and actually ran a pottery studio and workshops in France. I could play the piano, can still read music. I also studied ballet and the Benesh system of writing movement.

I can ride a bike (yes, I've said that before) and grow my own vegetables.  

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