A Shell of a Man
by The Writer
It’s What’s On The Inside That Counts
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall (but I believe it was more like a pedestal). Humpty Dumpty had a great fall (which literally shattered his reality). And all the King’s men (80 in original song lyrics) couldn’t put him back together again.
There is no mention of how Humpty got onto the wall, or why he believed, in his fragile state, it was a safe place to be. Furthermore, there’s no mention of what he was doing on the wall prior to his fall. Nor is there any mention as to why the King would send his best to try and fix the situation. What was Humpty Dumpty’s life like before the fall, and who was he in relation to the mysterious King?
Published as a riddle, Humpty Dumpty is a cautionary tale about pride that focuses on loss of the ego instead of celebrating the rebirth of the spirit. Humpty sat high with an inflated ego, and plummeted faster than he rose. Even though there isn’t much more to the nursery rhyme, fortunately, the important lesson learned from this tragic event has been preserved over time. But, what remains is only half of the story. Perhaps it was a riddle to hide the lesson that could not be articulated: the only person that could restore Humpty Dumpty back together again was Humpty Dumpty himself.
Humpty Dumpty acquired his high profile status and favour with the King with the assistance of his spirit and ego working together. Believing he was the best at whatever it was he did, he came to the attention of the King and impressed him with his confidence. Because Humpty believed in himself, the King and the kingdom believed as well. Humpty may or may not have been the best, but once he was elevated to a higher status, metaphorically and literally, he became over confident, his ego swelled, and ultimately he fell from his pedestal. Wanting to restore him to his status, the King and his men tried to put him together again, but Humpty’s state had changed and left him only a shell. He had been broken.
He had been blessed.
Where did Humpty get his confidence? He got it from his ego, hubris, or pride. Interestingly, humility or humus, the opposite of hubris, is the virtue connected to the spirit. Had Humpty humbled himself, he wouldn’t have become overconfident, but his humility was still ‘in development’, and he needed to protect its growth. During the growth process, the exterior world offers many riches and lavishness — which could be considered illusions. Becoming attached to these things can sometimes leave one feeling empty and hollow inside. As Humpty reached his dizzying high, perhaps he realized it was time for a change. However, the ego wants to protect the spirit from the trauma and pain of the inevitable transformation process. Sometimes the toughest part of the process is letting go of the attachments or illusions of the world. It’s a hard lesson; Humpty had to learn.
I can relate to Humpty Dumpty because my pride was hurt when my humility wasn’t strong enough to take the lead. Unaware of this fact, my pride grew stronger while protecting my weak spot. I believed I possessed humility, but in truth I was lacking; like most, I was over confident and celebrated my lackluster achievements as if they were miracles. I wanted to be King so I had to show confidence in order to impress those whom I worshipped as kings.
Though I like to believe I accept change easily, the truth is, I don’t always adapt easily. Sometimes, the change seems too difficult or too challenging. And, sometimes, I resist change with every effort because I wish for things to remain the same. Despite my exterior being driven by my ego at times, I find it enjoyable to reap the spoils of a long-fought spiritual war. Sometimes I don’t want to think of the rising pedestal and the great fall that waits. The cycle is scary, and I don’t like to be afraid. Courage and confidence are often considered the same thing even though they are different. Confidence may be a good thing, but I can’t always be humble and confident at the same time. When I realize there will always be someone better than me at something I’ve prided myself on being the best at, I fall one way or the other: I humble myself or become overconfident. Having shifted my perceptions about pride, I understand how and why it swells. Looking back, I know how I got onto my pedestal, but I never saw the fall coming.
Regrettably, despite all the warning signs, red flags and flashing lights, I don’t believe it’s possible to stop your own eminent fall, no matter how careful you may be.
It seems, as a result of living from the ego side of the soul, pride and lust have become the dominant societal manifestations. ‘Primitive’ cultures, which nurtured their relationships with their spiritual creator, focused more on sloth and wrath. If you were too lazy to get up early to gather food, you weren’t eating. And, having spent countless hours hunting and gathering, sharing the meager portions with those outside your family or community, probably wasn’t happening. When people go hungry, they get angry. Incidentally, the two things always mentioned in ancient cultural stories are the wrath of God (the Gods), and the abundance or lack of food. These don’t seem to be the hot topic these days. With the mass production of food, famine is not as an immediate danger as it once was (at least not for those of us in industrialized nations), but it remains an echo in our minds. Today’s inflated sense of accomplishments (pride) and awareness of intense desire (lust) seem to be the more prevalent topics of present time.
Interestingly, although pride and lust have negative connotations, they can be viewed as positive things. For example, I pride myself on my work and, I have a lust for knowledge. Yet, with the rise in online dating sites and push for relationships, it seems people sometimes lust for love but often just settle for lust. Furthermore, there is a rise in a ‘spiritual awareness’ which is about ‘oneness’ with the Creator; even that seems a tad prideful, but it is part of the universal dance of the spirit. In either case, I’m guilty of both.