The Same Coin

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When storyteller Yvonne Healy and I taught second and third graders storytelling, we were preparing our students for telling their stories to others. Some, being the little ones they were, showed signs of nervousness.

That’s when Yvonne taught them a trick that I’ve used to this day. She took out a penny and held it out to the kids face up. She asked them what it was, and of course they told her it was a penny. She took that same coin and flipped it the other direction, then asked the same question. Of course it was still a penny.

She then explained to the kids that the heads and the tails were two sides of the same coin. They are two different parts of the same thing. So, too, she said, were fear and excitement. Two sides of the same coin. One does not exist without the other.

It sure worked for those kids, and it certainly works for the student storytellers I’ve been working with (more on that later).

But tonight I’m feeling it intensely for myself. Yes, I am on my way to play my very first hockey game. Yes, on ice. Yes, with other people. No, not with either of my children watching.

And I have to confess that between fear and excitement, I’m feeling a substantial amount of both. I see that as a good thing.

The way I see it, I am always getting my students to put themselves into a zone of discomfort and take risks all the time. Why shouldn’t I give myself the opportunity to do the same? The opportunity to fail. The opportunity to fall. The opportunity to see what it’s like to be the least skilled person in the room, and yet still be satisfied with my progress and improvement. It’s a tall order for a perfectionist. Still, I don’t have the right to teach it to my kids if I can’t live it myself.

So I’ll be out there tonight. I will be the one struggling to skate, trying to figure out where to line up for face-offs, and looking pretty silly all around.

I can’t wait.

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