What amazes and always impresses me is when people do something competently and well. People who know how to lift hammer, draw blood, bake bread, fix roofs, write, sing, draw, find small stars in other galaxies. There is something about watching a person in the groove, the flow, the movement of their work that astounds and inspires. And when people are nice AND competent, well, then, that's the miracle.
In the short story "My Brother Eli" by Joseph Epstein, the main character Louis tells the story of his brother Eli, a famous, talented writer, who ended up committing suicide at age 79 (I'm not giving anything away as Louis tells us this on the first page). Eli won every single writing award for his novels, but he was a total shit. Selfish, solipsistic, irresponsible with people and money, and oblivious to others' feelings.
In class, one of my students said something like, "But he was an artist. He saw things others did not. He should be allowed his behavior."
Other said, "Louis is just jealous."
I said, "Louis is truthful. Maybe a bit pissed off. But right to tell the story of his brother."
To this--to the mantle of genius awarding horrible behavior rights--I say bollocks. I say, talk to the hand. You might be an artiste--you might be a surgeon of inordinate skill--you might be a prima ballerina--but none of that should absolve you from living on this planet, in this world with the rest of us. No one should ever utter the phrase, "Don't you know who I am?"
Your painting, your dance, your poem, your book, your movie is just as good as a well-put in IV. Or a fabulous loaf of wheat bread. You are not above other humans beings. Simply, you are just great at what you do. So snap out of it.
Today at Kaiser Pleasanton, everyone I met and everyone who worked with me was kind, talented, thoughtful, and skilled. No one walked around like the King of the World. I loved watching them do what they do, doing their best, taking care of people, me, for one.
So thank you to people who do what they do to the best of their abilities and do it well, do it without attitude, do it while living here with us.
Causes Jessica Inclán Supports
Women for Women International Goodwill Industries Lindsey Wildlife Museum Freecycle.org