When Sweet River Grace was first released, I buried this track at the end as a “bonus track”. On the cd there are several minutes between the last song (Cozy Corner) and this one, allowing it to stand alone. I did this largely because it is so Beatleseqe in style that I thought it didn’t quite fit in with the others. The sax solo on this song (by dear friend Klaudia Promessi) is one of my favorite moments on the record. Even though I thought this song didn’t quite fit in with the others, I wanted to include it because its message is important to me.
I have spent most of my professional life as a teacher of young children. I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with the ultimate beginners, and I’ve surely learned as much from them as they have from me. While in college I read Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, which impressed upon me what a wonderful thing it is to be a beginner at something.
Or course, being a beginner involves a certain amount of risk. Some level of failure is virtually guaranteed. As a kindergarten teacher, I was inspired by the children’s ability to get back on the proverbial horse, to fall and get up again, and to make lemonade from lemons. And I was also taken aback by how early the gremlins set in; how some children were paralyzed by their own need to do things perfectly the first time. I’ve witnessed countless incidents of kids going to pieces when they couldn’t cross the bars like other kids, or when the cat they drew failed to look like a cat. It’s heartbreaking. And it pushed my own buttons, triggering my own awareness of always wanting to do things perfectly, to not feel or be seen as a failure by myself and others. I was challenged by trying to help them, while knowing I hadn’t completely learned these lessons myself.
And I was so frequently wrapped up in my wanting them to succeed, that I would try to prevent their failure. I would catch myself wanting to yell “STOP!” at a certain point while they were painting. It was hard to let them turn their beautiful artwork to mud, again and again. And in the process I was always being reminded that we were teaching each other.
As a teacher, the goal of our classroom community was to create an environment where it was safe to fail, safe to be wrong, safe to not be the best at everything. And these are concepts I’ve tried to apply to my life outside the classroom. Needless to say, I haven’t graduated yet.
So as I write this, I find myself putting my armor on and jousting with gremlins about this new website and this blogging stuff. I’m afraid of being too wordy, too exposed, too self-absorbed. I have a fear of being delusional, of writing what no one will want to read; of building a place that no one will go to. But I’m doing it anyway, because like the song says: I dare to suck.