Monthly Archives: August 2013

Embrace the Awkward

While I’ve felt socially awkward most (er, all) of my life, there came a certain point when I realized:

Everyone is pretty awkward.

Maybe once there was a time when everyone knew the rules of etiquette and were properly equipped to handle them, but…I’m going to go with probably not.

Life is complicated and interactions are complicated and we’re all navigating this mixed up social scene together.

So go ahead and embrace the awkward. Let your wackiness show and other people will appreciate that they don’t have to hid theirs.

Make a comment in a group that’s met with resounding, awkward silence? Make a joke about how awkward it is.

Find yourself in a room of people where everyone else is chatting and you don’t know anyone? Find someone else who’s standing awkwardly in the corner and suggest you stand together so you look less awkward.

We’ll never alleviate awkwardness (and perhaps we should not) but we can embrace that awkward and boldly declare – This is awkward, and I don’t care who acknowledges it as such, because it is.

And that’s okay.

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Words, Words, Words

Dark, twisting, winding thoughts
A complex maze of mire
There is no end
But in the din
A concept slowly makes.

Words are nothing
But they are all –
Nothing would without them be –
Yet words alone cannot convey
What exists within our soul.

Soul itself is not as such
But what else could
Describe it to be
So we say
And soldier on
But barely comprehend.

We struggle to communicate,
Clasp lip to ear and
Muddle through,
But the void of silence deepens still
Beyond the reach
Of thought and feel
The emptiness consumes us all.

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The Art of Failure

I just got off from several days of working with the OPENAIR Circus, a volunteer-run non-profit that annually teaches circus and leadership skills to 200 children. Six weeks of classes and rehearsals culminate in a jam-packed weekend of performances.

There’s a lot I love about the circus, but one thing I was reflecting on the last few days was how great it is to watch kids fail.

Wait, let me rephrase that.

Circus skills, like many things, are a delicate balance of science and art. There’s the science of how to do the skill and the art of how to do it well.

You start with the basics. You juggle with just one ball. Then with two. Then three. Then more. You try harder variations as you improve. (For the record, my juggling skills are stagnate at 3 balls, 3 throws).

Then you start trying tricks. Playing around. Experimenting with new things. Seeing what works.

And when you do this, you mess up. Many, many, many times.

Watching someone practice a circus skill is a lesson in patience. They drop the ball. The hoop goes flying. They fall over. Then they try again.

And it’s not just the students who make mistakes. The teachers do, too.

And there’s something good about dropping a ball on stage.

Because, again like many things, several circus skills look effortless when done well. But when you make a mistake, just for a moment, the audience is in on the secret. They suddenly appreciate that the trick they’re watching is really, really hard.

When a show(person) makes a mistake on stage, they gesture grandly as if to say, “that’s how it goes sometimes,” then they try again.

And often they try a third time.

But when they nail that trick the crowd goes wild.

I’ll skip the cliche of saying that the best part is watching a student master a trick after hours of unsuccessful attempts, because I don’t think that is the best part.

Indeed – the best part is when a student finally masters a skill, enjoys a brief celebration, then excitedly asks themselves, “What can I try next?”

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