The saying is, “opposites attract.” It’s true for me when I meet someone who is talented yet self-effacing. By contrast, I’m all bangles, spangles and show-biz beads. Lemme hear that roar!
I suppose growing up as an only child of divorced parents and living in poverty on Los Angeles’s mean streets taught me to stand up for myself. I won’t say more, because, as the woman at the retirement center says, “Everyone has a story.” (Click)
Nonetheless, I do recognize and respect genuine modesty. To be honest, I’m humbled by it.
Recently, I wrote a blog about the poet, Esther Elizabeth. She lives at our retirement center and had published a collection of works which I admired enough to blog about. (Click) She hadn’t promoted her publication. I discovered it by chance, when I stopped by her table while she was having lunch one afternoon. My reason for pausing was to compliment her on a poem that appeared in our monthly in-house magazine. I wanted her to know I’d enjoyed it. I should have left our exchange at that, but I didn’t. Instead, I offered unsolicited advice on how to improve it. That said, I assured her, if she made the change, the piece would be worth publishing.
Esther thanked me for my critique and we chatted a few minutes longer. That’s when I learned she had launched her new book of poems. Not her first collection, but her second. I flushed with embarrassment when I heard her, as if she’d pointed out I had toilet paper stuck to my shoes. After all, what skills had I talk of poetry? None. I seldom attempted it, in fact, knowing how supremely difficult poetry is. Still, that didn’t stop me for giving unsolicited advice to a twice published author.
That wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last, when my good opinion of myself would land me in a pratfall. What could I do but laugh, out of long experience and a willingness to forgive myself? Esther was generous with her smile, too. Nonetheless, I walked away, chastened. Even so, I could already see a bright side. How lucky I was not to have found Robert Frost seated at the table.