Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart


the candle and the mirror

candle in mirror

There are two ways of spreading light:
to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.
Edith Wharton

When I was young, and my dreams as new-bright as clean copper, I believed I would set the world on fire. Somehow I would change what was wrong — poverty, ignorance, social injustice. There were, after all, so many of us who thought that. Surely we couldn’t fail.

So the fire of the candle — its yellow-white & blue light — lit those dreams brightly. Truth and justice would fill me, I was certain, and I would burn a path of justice through my time.

It hasn’t worked like that. :)

Teachers — and writers, really — aren’t candles. Sometimes we’re not even very good mirrors. But at our best (& luckiest), we reflect brightly the flames within our students. Our friends. Our readers. These days, I am trying every day to be a mirror.

There is little as satisfying as showing someone s/he can write. That within them are the words to tell an important, dearly cherished story. Often someone arrives in a class of mine — and this has happened as far back as my first teaching, more than 30 years ago — convinced they can do nothing well. Certainly not write. From pre-schoolers who can’t string macaroni to 94-year-old women who worry that their poetry is boring, fear of failure knows no age. And yet I’ve never met anyone who wants to learn — who wants to write — who can’t. It’s just a matter of desire, practice, and reflection.

You do need a mirror, however. To show you how brightly the flame you carry inside can burn. How brightly all our candles burn. And I’m here for that. Perfectly happy, these days, not to have blazed a flaming path. Perfectly happy to be just a mirror, spreading light.



Previous Posts

day #20 of Thanksgiving month
 It's an older picture, but still appropriate for today's post. Because here's my gratitude today: my grandson recognizes me! Before you think I've totally lost my marbles, let me explain. My grandson is only 18 months old next week. I haven't seen him f2f for the past 4 months. And despite grea

posted 7:04:57pm Nov. 20, 2014 | read full post »

day #17 of Thanksgiving: drive, she said
Americans take our ability to drive ourselves wherever for granted. I'm probably the only person I know who didn't drive until in my 20s. Yes, I 'learned' to drive. Took the test at 16 (the legal age when I was

posted 5:32:53pm Nov. 17, 2014 | read full post »

day of Thanksgiving #16: tech support (and privilege)
My computer has been wonky for weeks. By wonky, read: slooow, hanging, programs crashing. A pain, in other words. Enter tech support, AKA my beloved. Who often can merely walk into the room and broken electroni

posted 4:14:28pm Nov. 16, 2014 | read full post »

day of Thanksgiving #15
Central heat. That's today's gratitude. Now, some folks may think that's NOT an everyday kind of thing to be grateful for. But that's my point -- we use it every day in winter (those of us who are lucky enough to

posted 7:29:28pm Nov. 15, 2014 | read full post »

day of Thanksgiving lucky number 13: broccoli (and Aunt Bonnie)
I owe today to my Great-Aunt Bonnie. While she didn't exactly teach me to cook, she certainly had a big part in teaching me to love food. I can't remember a single meal she prepared (and there were many) that I di

posted 9:55:17pm Nov. 13, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.