Seeing What Is There

In the spirit of the summer, I am experimenting with very brief posts. Let me know what you think of this format.

As I left the Aikido dojo last month I turned to Firestone Sensei, who was busy watering the beautiful orchid set on the windowsill and asked, “Next time I come, would you watch me do my backward roll and tell me what I am doing wrong? I’m having a hard time rolling on one side.”


He answered immediately, with the good nature that is his hallmark, “Understanding what’s missing won’t help you learn how to do a backward roll correctly. Pay attention to what you are doing correctly on the right side and then practice it on the left.”

His words were so simple, and for me, so true. It struck me that so much of our energy in schools is devoted to dealing with what is missing, and so little to what is really there. When I think back to the teachers that have had the greatest impact on my life, I see now, that they were the ones who recognized my gifts, pointed them out to me, and encouraged me to build on them.

What better gift can we give the children we teach, no matter their ages, than to look beyond whatever we feel is missing in them, to celebrate the real beauty of what is there.



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