Archive | April, 2013

Revelations

30 Apr

Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

     Seeing this quote recently reminded me of a profound shared experience that I had in graduate school. I was taking a class called Writing Children’s Literature, where we studied methods of writing for children, as well as exemplary children’s books we could use in teaching and learning. Our professor, being one of the belief that the best writing comes from within, assigned us the task of writing a personal essay about a defining moment in our lives, using some of the techniques learned in the class. 

Let me say to start, that coming from a lower-middle class family, (and at times lower than that), I had some prejudices against people who had more money than me. People who had their college education paid for, who hadn’t started working at 13 in order to buy nicer clothes and the “stuff” that teenage girls need. So sometimes I’d look at my classmates and judge them , think of how lucky they were. How easy they had it compared to me, especially when I factored in the fake leg thing. I would look around and think that no one around me had any inkling of how hard life could be. 

Those prejudices were shattered on the last day of class, when our professor had us read aloud our personal essays. I listened intently as each person shared his story, words we had labored over all semester. Some stories were funny, some sentimental. But the majority were stories of pain and sadness and harsh reality:  The young woman who told of the death of her grandmother, and painstakingly recounted a recipe for memories, the steps they’d taken each month, making homemade baklava;  an older woman who shared the loss of her childhood, having been in and out of hospitals her whole life for bone-lengthening operations; the 22-year old cancer survivor who told of how learning to play the organ gave her solace and hope, while going through treatment–I still get chills thinking about that one. By the end of the class, I had heard so many stories filled with tragedy, that I was bawling, red-faced and snot-nosed, cursing my teacher for not having tissues. 

The power of that day resides within me. Never in one moment have I felt so enlightened, yet so ridiculously stupid at the same time. I know it sounds cheesy, but I hadn’t truly realized until that moment that people are, inherently, more alike than different. I realized how selfish I’d been in my thinking. We all have shared experiences and  universal truths. Pain, death, and tragedy affect us all.  “Everybody’s Got Their Something” (The quote’s a bit out of context compared with the Nikka Costa song of the same title, but I think  it’s fitting here). To this day, I wish that everyone could have the same type of revelatory experience–it just might help people understand one another better.

Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

Sent from my iPad