I think we all have that “Aha!” moment when we realize that we really love doing something, and that we might just be pretty good at it.
It happened to me in the third grade. Until the moment of that revelation, it never occurred to me that one person might be better at something than another person, that with lots of practice we develop individual expertise in certain areas, and that we often make our livelihoods in those those realms we find ourselves drawn to.
I just assumed until then that all kids were created equal in all things.
I often wonder if I fell in love with drawing because of the sensory pleasure (which I still get) of moving a pencil across a sheet of paper, or if it was the positive feedback I got from my teacher and from other kids that made me want to do more of it. Praise is a powerful motivator, especially when you’re a shy, skinny, un-athletic, self-conscious child. Whatever the reason, I vividly remember the moment when the ability to draw began to define my life.
The next story is about that fateful event.
On another subject, I received more feedback on the previous story and associated blog posts, about my first encounters with racial segregation.
Jane sent this note:
Your story reminded me of the first time I went to a restaurant with black friends. I was dating a young engineer who worked at Rocketdyne. We went on a “double date” with one of his black coworkers and his new bride. We went to a restaurant called the Hickory Stick, where the service was usually friendly and the steaks were delicious.
It had recently become illegal to discriminate, but the law and the reality were not the same. We waited for over an hour and had to ask several times to be served. Our server was stone faced and obviously unhappy.
When we got back to the car someone had thrown what looked like ice cream on it, so we headed to the car wash. We were so nervous, we didn’t say a word. Then when the car wash started all its sloshing and slushing we started laughing and we laughed so hard we were finally crying. Guess it was some sort of tension release.
In my neighborhood, some of the homes had special bathrooms for the “help”. For some reason, we thought it was a “secret bathroom”. We weren’t suppose to use these bathrooms because … Of course, we did use them. It was such an adventure to do something we were not allowed to do.
Thanks, Ed. Reminding ourselves of how lucky we were to be born white and how difficult life would have been had we been born black is necessary.