I was halfway through a mosaic laying workshop discussing the fascinating aspects of creating a story through one by one laying of tiles on the concrete surface. As part of my routine I turned to one of the kids and asked him: “what’s the story in your tile?” His response illustrated exactly what Yoko had described as the challenge of working with youth: “whatever…” he said with the most lifeless look on his face.
They’re bored; they’re all over the place; they always want to do something other than what you were committed to deliver. “How do you spell whatever?!” I asked him with surprising breathless enthusiasm. In retrospect I couldn’t really explain where my outburst came from. His response was “aahm, doubleyoo, ‘H’, ‘A’…, whatever…”. So I had to conclude with “Good Job! I almost got you there!”.
Putting this experience in writing reminds me that face to face communications lives in a different universe than that of letters and text. In the written space, texting, typing or messaging have a life of their own. Whoever the recipient might be, my words arrive at the other side without facial expressions and no sounds. I can send an innocent “What’s up?” to my sister and hear the explosions from the other side of the world in a matter of minutes. Or never hear from her ever again.
Sometimes every breath we take is loaded with food for interpretations. When I was a teenager I had realized that no matter what I do or say there is always someone who will be upset. My conclusion was to do whatever felt right to me. If any explanations will be needed afterwards, so be it. You have to trust your own intentions.
Communications can be an adventure. There are people who prefer to avoid confrontation. I can envy them for their choice of calm and composure. Most of the time my patience is that of an educator. Occasionally though I feel like it is that of a rebel: why should I wait till tomorrow for the action that could have been taken yesterday?! But people need their own time to join a "revolution". Put the wrong pressure and something will break. Fixing what went wrong then takes place instead of any sense of progress. Without prior intentions I become a rescue expedition to outer space.
The mosaic workshops were mostly grounded in and around community centers. No extraterrestrial adventures
here. The boy who got the attention he needed continued to work on his tile with a new sense of commitment. Whatever he texted to his friends afterwards I have no idea…