There was a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Captain Picard and friends came across a slow-talking, slow-moving group of humanoids. They didn’t appear to be very intelligent as they kept saying “We know things.” It turns out they were crafty beyond measure. Today I felt the opposite.
“Jeremy”, the Grade 6 teacher, had the kids read about the history of St. Patrick’s Day, and then answer questions about the passage. I was doing fine with all that. Then he challenged them with word scrambles – decoding twenty terms from the reading. Pairs of kids worked diligently to rearrange the letters. Looking over many shoulders, I saw the lists gradually being filled in. A few kids came over one by one, to ask if I’d figured out #11 yet, or #4. I said no and suggested they look for the possibility of a silent “e” at the end of a word, or search for consonant blends such “ch” or “st”. I sounded fairly intelligent, at least in my own hearing.
But what was true?
I didn’t have a clue. Eleven-year-olds were proceeding merrily towards completion of the twenty but all I’d accomplished was “iswh” is “wish” and “camgi” is “magic”. Sweat piled up on my brow as I realized I was unable to solve “Ieardnl”, “rogaen”, “evlorc” or “enrge”.
As they say, my whole life flashed before me … times when I clearly wasn’t good enough, times when everyone else seemed to be better. Failing a French test, falling down continually in my version of skating, piddling around the shallow end while my classmates did laps in the pool. It’s so powerful, this pull of assumed inferiority. Today I didn’t have the eyes to see my many good points. They simply didn’t exist when I couldn’t recognize “clover” within the jumble of my mind.
I was asleep to what’s real. The challenge for me is to wake up ever more quickly rather than thinking I can eliminate the moments of ignorance, deficiency and angst.
Now, with the benefit of hours between there and here, I smile. Actually I chuckle. What a silly goose to be defining my self-worth on my ability to turn “rogaen” into … into … “orange”!
Ahh. There’s hope for me yet.
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