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GIT! On the fine art of being snubbed…

19 Oct

I’ve been told this.
At many times and in various ways.

“I don’t care if I ever talk to you again!”
“Get out of here, you jerk!”
(That one was accompanied by a literal kick to the rear. I deserved it. Richly.)

Those are the most notable “gits” in my memory.
Uttered by people I had known and for reasons I fully grasped.
I really did deserve them!

Yesterday it was “Git!” with an angry thumb emphatically pointed behind. This time from a total stranger. In a sanctuary. For reasons unbeknownst to me. I thought they were words in jest at first, so I laughed.

Clearly, this didn’t help.

The repeated, “No, not ‘haha’, GIT!” left little doubt of that – even for me.

Since this was that brief “turn and greet someone” moment in church, I knew that wasn’t the time or place to plumb the whys, so I bowed and said, “Happily, sir” and then proceeded to embrace everyone around him.

First lesson in the fine art of being snubbed:

Take the hugs, leave the snubs.

Or, to put it another way, don’t get sucked into the black hole of “the Student from Hell.” Parker Palmer relates the tale of “the Student from Hell” in what has been for me a highly shaping read – The Courage to Teach:

I had just finished a two-day faculty workshop on a Midwestern university campus. Amid high praise for the 97059work we had done together—which, I was told, had given people deeper insight into the pedagogical arts—I was ushered into a political science class where I had agreed to be “teacher for an hour.”

I should have left while the leaving was good.

There were thirty students in that classroom. It is possible that twenty-nine of them were ready to learn, but I will never know. For in the back row, in the far corner, slouched the specter called the Student from Hell.

The Student from Hell is a universal archetype that can take male or female form; mine happened to be male. His cap was pulled down over his eyes so that I could not tell whether they were open or shut. His notebooks and writing instruments were nowhere to be seen. It was a fine spring day, but his jacket was buttoned tight, signifying readiness to bolt at any moment.

What I remember most vividly is his posture. Though he sat in one of those sadistic classroom chairs with a rigidly attached desk, he had achieved a position that I know to be anatomically impossible: despite the interposed desk, his body was parallel to the floor. Seeking desperately to find even one redeeming feature in the specter before me, I seized on the idea that he must practice the discipline of hatha yoga to be able to distort his body so completely.

At that point in my life, I had been teaching for twenty-five years. Yet faced with the Student from Hell, I committed the most basic mistake of the greenest neophyte: I became totally obsessed with him, and everyone else in the room disappeared from my screen.

For a long and anguished hour I aimed everything I had at this young man, trying desperately to awaken him from his dogmatic slumbers, but the harder I tried, the more he seemed to recede. Meanwhile, the other students became ciphers as my obsession with the Student from Hell made me oblivious to their needs. I learned that day what a black hole is: a place where the gravity is so intense that all traces of light disappear.

I first encountered this story nearly two decades ago, and it has been affixed to my soul ever since. Snubs can so easily – and quickly – work their way into our skin, turning us sour and sullen like King Ahab obsessed with the one piece of ground he can’t have. What an essential skill of life not to get sucked into the black hole of the snub, the rejection, the averted glance, the Facebook unfriending, or the mere lack of likes on our latest brilliant, witty, observant post.

We can be surrounded by multiple encounters with life and light, but we can’t see past the black hole of that snub.

Leave it.

You have better things to do…

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6 Comments

Posted by on October 19, 2015 in haverings

 

Tags: , , , , ,

6 responses to “GIT! On the fine art of being snubbed…

  1. Sherri Coffield

    October 19, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    I love this blog. It holds so much experiential truth for me……. especially in the last year or so….. Lots of confirmation right here. Thanks Mike.

    Sherri Coffield

    Connecting Creatives with Each Other and our Creator

    _____

     
  2. wordhaver

    October 19, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Glad it speaks, Sherri…stay tuned for the other two lessons I intend to share…

     
  3. Lisa

    October 23, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    I call it the 1 out of 99. Jesus looked at it as a challenge. “He would leave the 99 to seek the 1 lost.” Moral of my story, I’m not Jesus. I for one am taking a break and praying for the 1 as I skip my merry self down the road.
    Good read Sir Mike.

     
  4. wordhaver

    October 24, 2015 at 12:01 am

    Why, Lisa, that sounds like a dance. How about I join you…

     

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