The Suitcase Lady

Expectations

September 9, 2012, 10:48 pm

“If you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.”

I saw these words on a poster in an art room where I was working. The quote was attributed to Einstein, but being a born skeptic, I looked it up and found he never uttered them. Nevertheless, I do like the sentiment the words convey.

One of our cultural problems these days is the expectation that we all must be experts on everything. Good students are devastated if they get a “B” in one subject. Stress is rampant in schools where it is now possible to get more than a 4 point average. As Garrison Keillor quips, “All the women are strong, all the men are good looking and all the children are above average.” Woe be to those children that aren’t.

Kids’ jaws drop when I say in a classroom that I have always struggled with math. Since art and language skills are my strongest, I fail to see why I must be equally proficient in solving advanced algebraic equations. In my opinion, x has no business pretending it’s a number anyway.

Sharing and the common good are not currently in vogue.  The logical outcome of this thinking is the onus being put on each individual to be completely accomplished at everything.

Don’t buy into this kids. Your world won’t end if you get a B or even a C. A quick look back in history reveals very few Renaissance men and women. Most of us get by with the help of our friends and a pocket calculator.

Be a fish that knows it doesn’t have to climb trees. But strive to be extremely good at swimming or whatever your special thing might be.


1 Comment for this entry

  • evie

    Mary,
    So refreshing. Re-fishing???
    I love what you said about “x.”
    (Wish I were a Brit so I could put
    the period outside the quotation mark.)
    sigh,
    evie (a sister word-person)