Human of the Year

—Written on October 15, 2015—

Hello? hello?
Calling a Karl Projectorinski1
To the front of the cathedral
You have won, dear sir
May I congratulate you first?
Oh, what an honor…

With waves of adrenaline causing my heartbeat to thunder loudly in my ears, I clamor to my feet. Each step feels delayed, multiple eternities passing before each appendage comes crashing clumsily back to earth. I make my way to the stage. The lights are so bright and the crowd so dark, it could easily be true that the darkness held no watching eyes. Yet I know that the eyes of thousands were upon me.

At first, I wonder what I could have possibly done to warrant such extravagant recognition. Then, of course—silly me—I realize: why wouldn’t I receive such an award? Within only moments, my mind has risen to the task of filling in the blanks, conjuring every noble, extraordinary action I’d taken in my life. After all, I’ve always been an over-achiever, naturally rising to leadership, and easily developing skills. If anything, I’ve not been challenged nearly enough.

Any remaining nerves flee at the sight of my burgeoning confidence and sense of entitlement.

On the stage, I receive the award. It is a trophy-sized medal, and as I am bestowed with the honor, a pair of hands reach out from the dark and lift the medal over my neck.

I slump with the weight of the thing. The moment its burden fell upon my neck, the house lights came up. I look around in confusion. The orchestra music halts suddenly. Somewhere, a violin string snaps with a harsh twang, and a cello falls to the floor, its hollow wood frame resounding. What I had thought was the raucous din of enthusiastic applause soon reveals itself to be merely the sound of thousands of footsteps carrying their owners from the room. In the back, my family and husband, my closest friends stand just before the door, faces solemn as I acknowledge them.

The text on my award reads, “Human of the Year.”2

Nobody but me is overjoyed at my accomplishment.

Even the stage is now empty, and the congratulatory words over the loudspeaker end in cascading sarcasm: “Human of the year! Congratulations! You have displayed for all to see the rapturous necessity of human dignity. You have proven to be sacrificial—at defending your own cause. You are focused—on yourself. You are dedicated—to yourself. You have achieved so much—all for your own sense of accomplishment. Truly, you have our most heartfelt admiration for this triumph.”

By assuming myself to be above the ranks of the other sinners, I firmly rooted myself in their congregation.

And thus the cathedral had spoken
Wishing well to all us sinners
And with a psalm drew silent
Till next year’s big human winner.

  1. Please pardon my unabashedly Christian re-interpretation of Regina Spektor’s song, Human of the Year. It’s a thought-provoking song by a talented musician. This blog post is a product of contemplating its parallels to human pride, more than an inkling of which resides in my own desperately sinful heart. I am grateful for God’s grace and kindness toward me in Christ, that while I was yet a prideful sinner oblivious to my need of Him, Christ died the death I deserved for all my past, present, and future pridefulness.
  2. “Karl Projectorinski” may be a play on words related to psychological projection.

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