I don’t know if you remember that old magician’s trick with the usually three upturned cups and the ball that seems to magically move from cup to cup, and the observer never quite knows where the ball is, or how it got there. In one of our Practitioner classes years ago, a dear friend said, “I play hide the ball with myself all the time, and it frustrates me!” When she said it, I realized I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate way to describe how we keep ourselves from knowing ‘stuff’ that we claim we want to know. Most of us do this, at least sometimes. This is not a criticism. I think it’s an aspect of being human.
I’ve been using this pandemic cloistering period to work on my writing practice in a world-wide community of writers. The way this program is set up, everyone has a page of their own as a place to show their work. It’s a little cumbersome until you get the hang of it (like most things are when they are new), but it’s really not hard to find your own page. I’m watching one of my writing friends do his darnedest to keep himself from writing, and letting himself acknowledge that he actually writes well and beautifully. He’s a smart guy. He’s got a successful day job. And he’s got this other side that’s creative, poetic, profound and astoundingly lyrical in its beauty and depth.
This morning I noticed that he’d written an extraordinary piece of incredibly touching poetry on someone else’s ‘page’, and sheepishly admitted that he didn’t know how to find his own page. We’ve been in this writing program for five months. Twice I’ve offered to zoom with him on his computer to show him how to find his own page. I know of two other people, moderators of the writing program, who have also offered to assist him. Someone even made him a ‘how to’ sheet of directions, and he persists in hiding the ball from himself. I just wanted to cry when I saw his commentary this morning.
If we, or someone else, don’t want to know something, there is nothing that can be done to force them or us to see, and know. It’s not like having a puppy and rubbing their noses in it when we catch them peeing in the house. We don’t learn that way. Once we finally do wake up to the game and see though, and are willing to own our own ability, agency, autonomy, authority, responsibility and power, there’s nothing that stands in our way.
Being part of a world-wide writing community is both exciting and terrifying. I was telling one of my artist friends about it, and she was horrified at the idea of showing her work to others as it was in process, specifically so that other people could comment on it. I told her it was really quite fabulous, because one of the rules of engagement in this group was that commenters were required to be constructive, and kind. Early on when I joined this online writers’ group, I noticed the moderators, quickly and decisively, removed two people who didn’t know how to be constructive and kind.
It serves each of us to have a small group of supportive friends, who we trust and who actually have our best interests in mind and heart, and who will help us see our blind spots. Without that, it’s easy to just keep playing ‘hide the ball’, and we don’t learn and grow.
–Rev Janis Farmer