Artists of all media must continually hone their craft and learn from others. Whether attending workshops or galleries, following accomplished artists, or taking classes, we need each other to grow.
The writers I admire and follow enrich and teach me something every time I read their work. Andi Cumbo-Floyd is one of my people. She writes of many things, like telling the stories of enslaved people and how to be the writer you really are. She walks her talk. She is selfless. And she writes from the heart.
I’m currently working through a free course she developed, Discover your Writing Self. It happens through email and posts on a closed-group Facebook page. She asks good questions. Hard questions. She encourages us to contemplate, reflect, and nourish our souls.
She is one of my people.
And, because the course is about writing, and because she is a good teacher, she is transparent. She shares all shades of her writing experiences, including this one, from one of the people (formerly) in the group:
I find your posts to be way too “sugary” and emotive.
He asked to be unsubscribed.
Good golly, Miss Molly…Was it necessary to be so critical? so condescending?
You see that, right there, that mean-spirited and deflating comment about something personal and important. That, my beloveds, is a snapshot of what is just wrong.
It is just wrong that we believe our first job is to make it all about us. We look at life selfishly. One eye looks at the world. The other looks in a mirror. We expect them to match up and make us content.
We spend an inordinate amount of time trying to convince people – in bold and subtle ways – that we are smarter or more insightful or right-er than anyone else. Whether it’s the words we say or write, the tone of voice, or the look on our faces, we demand that society be ours alone, custom fit.
But we live in an off-the-rack world.
We hold tightly to the freedom of speech. As we should. As people in a world that shouts down those who don’t agree or do Believe. As people who must speak truth into a lost and broken world.
I’m sure that Andi did not pitch an attitude toward this man. She is far too classy for that. She unsubscribed him without sass and took the stab about sugar and emotion for what it should be worth, and hopefully no more.
But if I had the chance, I’d ask him, “What were you expecting in the course? Couldn’t you have explained that instead of mocking the sweetness so many of us have enjoyed? Did you gain something from harsh words and insults?”
Why did you have to hurt my friend?
This is bigger than unfollowing a Facebook page. It’s bigger than my frustration or how those words stung my friend, Andi.
This is about every single one of us. We need to look in the mirror, not to admire or check the custom fit we expect, but to look into the mirror of our souls.
We are all made of the same stuff. We walk the same earth. We breathe and eat, go to the bathroom and put our pants on one leg at a time. The same way.
Let’s remember that being smarter or more insightful or right-er than anyone else doesn’t make us better. Different? Yes. Better? No.
We are all the same.