Friday, July 15, 2022

fifteen hundred


One thousand five hundred days! 

Dear You,

Where are you at?  Because I want to meet you there!  I think maybe you are worried that you are on a different level, and that I might not want to skate with you, but that couldn't be less true!  I want to skate with you wherever, whoever, you are.  If you have never skated, I want to go with you to the rink and rent skates with you, hold your hand, and show you how to play the "Numbers Game."  If you want to just put them on your feet, stand up, and sit right back down, I want to loan you my skates and be at your side on the bench or sofa.  If you are way, way beyond me and three-turning, waltz jumping, hurricane kicking, hill bombing, and dropping in all over the streets and parks, I want to come and timidly roll on your sidelines!

It's possible that you have some other concerns; maybe you worry you will get hurt, or maybe you worry that you are too old, or that your friends will ridicule you.  To these concerns, I suggest taking it slow, no one is too old, and keep it secret.  Or, if secrecy isn't your thing, you can just ignore criticism, just like (hopefully) always.

It's a funny co-incidence, but in sifting through my old papers, I found a note of criticism, from a dearly admired painting teacher of mine.  Do you know, that it was rubbish?  No, really, it was terrible!  It suggested that I needed to have 'a break through soon.'  A break through?  To what, for pete's sake?  I spent the rest of the day mentally searching through my teaching interactions, praying that I would not remember myself saying such a stupid thing.  A thousand curses upon me, if I did such an ignoble thing!  I tossed this old letter, and I thought I might take a few minutes sometime soon to mentally immolate the people in my life who have said similar things.  I notice, in considering these people, that they are all white, old, men, and that they 'held' a lot of power over me for various reasons.  Of course, that's the deal with paralyzing and damaging criticism; if you didn't care what they said, it wouldn't matter what they said.  

I bet you are already thinking, "but, if you burn them up, if you erase their negative words from the record, won't you have to delete the positive things they said, too?"*  I have wondered about that, but I think that the positive lessons from these people are already integrated into my thoughts.  Also, I have a plan!  I am going, by removing this dusty junk, to make space on the shelf for some really encouraging words; some real appreciation for my own work.  Yes, you guessed it; I am going to put the words there myself, and I am not even going to ask anyone's permission to do it!  

To return to my main points here, I encourage** you to try roller skating, and, to also think hard about what words would encourage you, what words would make it safe for you to try, what words would open the door, give a little nudge, or reassure a person, and then, please, speak those words to yourself and to others!

* The very tiny scraps of praise that keep you coming back, whimpering for more from these masters?  Hmm, maybe the praise isn't that great anyway.  If you can see yourself as this kind of pitiful dog (and I know I do!), call to the poor pooch, and give it a biscuit, won't you?

** Roller skating encouragement for the very young.