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Excerpt from A Language Older Than Words

Being Who We Are (p. 336)

From chapter "A Time of Sleeping"

I did assign one topic each quarter that the people in the class had to write on. It was the final paper. The assignment was for each of them to walk on water, and then write about it. They had to decide to do something impossible, do it, and then describe what it was like. A few people filled their bathtubs with a quarter-inch of water, walked across that, and considered themselves done. Others walked across frozen lakes. But one quit smoking, another ended an abusive relationship, a very shy woman asked a man out (he said yes), another woman for the first time admitted her bulimia and sought help, one man told his parents he did not want to be an accountant but instead an artist.

The people in my classes, including me, did not need to be controlled, managed, nor even taught. What we needed was to be encouraged, accepted, and loved just for who we were. We needed not to be governed by a set of rules that would tell us what we needed to learn and what we needed to express, but to be given time in a supportive space to explore who we were and what we wanted, with the assistance of others who had our best interests at heart. I believe that is true not only for my students, but for all of us, human and nonhuman alike. All we want, whether we are honeybees, salmon, trash-collecting ants, ponderosa pines, coyotes, human beings, or stars, is to love and be loved, to be accepted, cherished, and celebrated simply for being who we are. Is that so very difficult?