Monday, June 17, 2019

Bridging The Gap To Come

The picture at the top of this post is an end-of-year present I received from a five-year-old. She dictated this message to her mother:

Teacher Tom,

I drew you a picture. It's a dragon with a big eye and a seashell and a rainbow over her head. It's a magic dragon who thinks she can jump over a puddle without getting wet, but even if you are magic you might slip in a puddle! She's a nice dragon, not a mean one. And she doesn't have a belly button.

I love you, Teacher Tom. You are nice an you tell funny stories.

I'm always touched by the thought of a child sitting down to think of me, to create something for me. Creating art is part of what it means to be human; creating art specifically for another person is to share a part of oneself, part of your uniqueness, something that has never been shared before, nor will it be shared ever again. It is a gift of love.

Mister Rogers wrote:
There would be no art . . . if human beings had no desire to create. And if we had everything we ever needed or wanted, we would have no reason for creating anything. So, at the root of all art . . . there exists a gap -- a gap between what the world is like and what we wish and hope for it to be like. Our unique way of bridging that gap in each of our lives seems to me to be the essence of the reason for human creativity.
When this girl sat down, thinking of me, she did so with the knowledge that she might not see me again for a long time, perhaps never again. It's a concept that she perhaps isn't fully capable, at five, to comprehend, but when I think of her creating this for me, I imagine that our impending "apartness" was in some aspect there with her, something that neither of us want, even if we know that it has always been woven into the fabric of our relationship. I likewise imagine that she was thinking of the funny stories, the ones we tell together, and she wanted to leave me with one to remember her by, one embedded with an important message about paying attention, a unique way of bridging the gap to come in both our lives.

I've published a book! If you are interested in ordering Teacher Tom's First Book, click here. Thank you!

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