Welcome to my newsletter, Abbe’s Ruminations. I mull, contemplate, ponder – old and new experiences, finding what I call the joy and laughter of repetition or the abandonment to not knowing.
An old saying, somewhat gross, sticks in my head. I think it came from my funny and secretly wise father.
“You can pick your nose, you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose.”
Besides being yucky, I see the wisdom of his words. Although he jokingly told this to me in elementary school, the words hit home when I was in high school. Peer pressure pushed me to the outskirts of the “in” groups. I shied away, awkward more a reader than a social butterfly.
However, my reading and studious behavior brought me in front of my English teacher who found my tenacious questions concerning the poor grades I received on essays due to punctuation versus content, disrespectful. My punishment was an assignment to teach a unit on short stories about Man vs. Nature.
I didn’t mind the research, the layering, the metaphors, the comparison to present day news. I shuddered facing my class of often not so nice peers.
Fast forward to the last two weeks, fifty-six years later, when I volunteered to teach 43 high school students the art of storytelling, demonstrating, and showing with their own ideas. Talk about sass. They dished and I dished back, until they mellowed and their personal lives became real. Smart, complicated, and often troubled, they created great stories.
My heart hurt seeing their struggles, but I allowed them to tell their stories, using new skills. Without me interfering or solving their issues, they grew and owned their life.
My father’s saying resonated. I learned to focus on my own issues, large or small, and not to meddle in the muck of another’s life. I can care, but our future lies in each person’s self-trust. Where I place my energy, close or far away, involves my future. I can pick my nose and gross out the public or I can do it privately, so no one knows.
To teach is to offer tools, support, a vision but not to take over another’s life with your own.
The best part of the experience—storytelling is different than writing. No Punctuation!
Abbe has authored six books, novels, essays, short stories, a memoir, and a children’s illustrated book.