Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Unspoiled Perspective

I spent the day yesterday at Drama Camp with about 16 kids ranging from 3rd to 7th grade. I love Drama Camp because it's a great opportunity to play and be silly while calling it acting.

The theme of the Camp was "Question", so all of our activities revolved around questions. This was a great topic and wide open for interpretation in teaching theater skills. I led two mini workshops....one on improvisation where we all had to communicate by asking questions only. It's very fun...you should try it.

My other workshop, that inspired this blog, began by my asking the kids to answer the question "Who are you?" without describing themselves by their name, age, family status or by the things they like to do. This is a question that my partner and I pose to adults in our JOY of NOW workshop. It typically stumps most adults since most people tend to assess their identity by what they do and have a hard time identifying who they be.

What was absolutely delightful yesterday was that the kids were able to answer the question without much prodding or help. Their perspective of themselves was unspoiled. They freely described who they each were without any signs of embarrassment. There was no comparing or apparent difficulty in speaking of themselves in a positive way. Each child was able to "own" the gifts they possess.

In my work with two different groups separated in age groups, I did notice the youngest kids were able to share a bit more freely than the older group. Perhaps the preteens have already begun to doubt the natural gifts that make them unique.

My hope is that these kids will remember who they are as they continue to mature. I hope that if someone criticizes them they will know even if they made a mistake, who they are is still amazing. I hope they will always be able to own their gifts without embarrassment or comparison. I hope their hearts and minds will remain unspoiled.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Snail's Pace and Presence

Earlier this morning as I sat on my patio having coffee, I noticed a snail slowly moving across the flagstone. I watched as it moved a short distance and then stopped as if it was being sure to take in all that was around it. After a few seconds, it moved on, repeating it's leisurely movement with no apparent guilt or stress in not getting somewhere by a certain time.

I found it amusing how this little creature that typically is referred to in a not so complimentary way, was currently captivating my attention. It made me think about how we humans rush more than we are slow and present. In our hurry to get to the next "thing", we miss the beauty of what is present right here, right now.

When I really think about it. I cannot honestly say there are many times where my fast pace is actually necessary. Perhaps my actions are simply trying to keep up with my fast moving thoughts. The good news is I have control over my thoughts.

So, when is it really necessary to rush to the next moment? I suppose if I was being chased by someone with a gun in his hand, that would be a good time to quickly move. If I was crossing a street and a big truck was speeding towards me, rushing would certainly be in order. If a shark was near me as I swam in the ocean, I would surely swim toward the shore as fast as I could.

What I'm noticing in these examples is that they all come from fear of harm, although the number of times I have actually been in danger of harm, requiring my rushing, have been slim.

The other fear, which is certainly more pervasive in all of our lives, is of failure. We believe that if we don't get enough done in a certain amount of time, we will fail. If we fail then we believe we are not valuable. I don't believe the snail slowly moving along the flagstone path has any fears of failure or of proving it's value. It just seems perfectly happy just to "be" present.

Perhaps reassessing the impact of potential failure will give me more clues about why I sometimes move so fast. So what if I fail? After all, it's not permanent...like being eaten by a shark.