I am so deep, yet it appears effortless.Posted: November 20, 2009
This week, as I am four times a year, I was involved in putting on a forty hour class on mental health issues. The audience was folks from my field who have a lot of contact with, but not a lot of training in dealing with, people in a mental health related crisis.
These weeks are some of my favorites. I work with friends I enjoy spending time with, on a topic that I see as important. Together, we do a great job of it, if I do say so myself…and apparently I do.
On Wednesday, I am always scheduled to wrap up the day with a block of instruction on communication skills. This is a tough point in the class to be in front of the room. The students have been in class all day and are ready to get out. Additionally, right before me is a panel discussion involving people living with a mental illness, or with a family member who has one. So, after an emotional discussion with the panel, the tired class members are told “Omawarisan is up after the break to discuss communication.”
After the first time this happened I decided I needed to do something to get the audience’s attention. So I open my class with some juggling. It has nothing at all to do with the topic, maybe that is why it works. It is also a skill not many people expect me to have. To be clear though, juggling has nothing to do with the topic I instruct on. I’m mostly showing off.
For the past several classes, I have added juggling raw eggs to the opening. I put a piece of paper on the floor and make jokes that the paper is not in case I drop an egg, but in case I get nervous and have an “accident.” I have never had an egg (or anything else) hit the paper…until Wednesday.
Yes, this week I did some ball tricks, then brought out the eggs. Everything was going fine, until one Grade A Large went a little astray. I reached to make the catch, it glanced off my fingertips and started a slow motion decent to the floor. I caught the remaining eggs and watched the last one fall for what seemed like 5 minutes until it broke on the floor.
The class went on, it seemed to go quite well actually. Periodically I’d step over the broken egg and make a joke, but I made no mention of the egg relating to the class.
The next day we reviewed the evaluations of the instructors for the previous day, including me. The gentleman reading the evaluation comments laughed and read out the following comment “When he dropped that egg, Omawarisan really helped me understand the fragile nature of life for the people we’re trying to help. It was a powerful moment.”
Yes, that’s why I did it. The egg, a pure package of potential life, was my metaphor for the lives the class members could expect to positively impact with their newly learned skills. When I allowed it to fall to the floor, it was a gesture symbolizing how those lives could be shattered if they didn’t do their best.
Or perhaps I messed up.
I’ll never tell.