Jan. 17th, 2017

gratitude

Jan. 17th, 2017 12:51 pm
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In another venue, someone asked what kept me going in difficult conversations about stuff that is hurting people and needs changing. Looking at my response to her, I realized I had just written a kind of thank you note. So here, this is for all the people who challenged me to do better.

"What helps me do that is remembering all the times I've been wrong on something and how long it took sometimes for people to get through to me. The ones who changed me profoundly were the ones who did not just pat me on the head for meaning well and give me all sorts of unearned slack, but who instead challenged me to think, to listen, to ponder what other people contributed and why they might think and feel that way, and to look at whether my reflex defense of a particular status quo was costing us in ways we rarely acknowledged. They made me uncomfortable and sometimes I got mad and thrashed around a lot and behaved in ways I wince about now, but their honesty and their insistence that if I applied myself, I could get up to speed on dealing with this stuff and start participating at a much deeper level, changed my life. I am forever grateful to them. Even the ones I was "chewing up nails and spitting out tacks" about back then. Maybe especially them, in fact. It's not the ones who put up with me who taught me. It's the ones who expected better of me, and left the invitation open for me to do the work and join the larger conversation."

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Elise Matthesen

January 2017

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