In reflecting on fear, hopelessness, and uncertainty over the past couple of weeks, I’m reminded of one conservatory student who quietly overcame his own fears, and let his art and his heart shine.
It was the final week before our second full-scale youth musical, We Are Monsters, and I was rounding up kids from the play yard at Garfield Elementary to come down to rehearsal. I had just sent a group off with a FOGG staff member when I noticed one of our little stragglers was having a particularly hard time. Min*, 6 years old, was turning his back toward me on the basketball court, and appeared to be crying. I slowly walked over to him and put my arm around his little shoulders.
“What’s wrong, Min?” I asked. “Don’t you want to come to play practice?”
His head shook, no.
Silence. I waited.
Then he spoke:
“I-I-I-I-I can’t say my line. I don’t want to be in the sh-sh-sh-show.”
And it flooded back to me what his mother had written on his registration form about his stutter. I realized that this was his first show and maybe the one line we’d given him might’ve brought up new fears for him about speaking in public. I took a deep breath and smiled.
“Min, what are the other werewolves going to do without you? You’re part of the team and they need you to come say your line. They’ll be there for you – supporting you, and even reminding you if you need it. Our story wouldn’t be the same without you.”
Min thought about it for a minute and finally agreed to try. I took his hand and we headed down to the music room for rehearsal.
Cut to 2 weeks later on the stage at Francisco Middle School’s Little Theater: there was Min, grinning ear-to-ear in his werewolf costume and make-up – barely recognizable as the trembling kid at the basketball court the week before. Min was having a ball, and shining his light – singing, dancing, and howling with his peers (and yes, he delivered his line beautifully!).
Each one of us who overcomes fear with art sets an example, not just for our world, but for ourselves that THIS IS POSSIBLE. I CAN DO THIS. Paradigm shifts start with baby steps, and when we multiply that by millions and billions, a whole lot of change can come to pass. Here’s to living that change.
*Name has been changed to protect privacy
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