The Gift

For years, I’ve had Einstein’s quote on my blog: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

I spent most of my life thinking I was stupid.

This was reinforced by my 2nd grade teacher who told my mother “I don’t believe Timmy has the ability to learn.”

We didn’t have words like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but I struggled with a learning disorder. This continued on through high school and college.

I believed that all of my four brothers were better than me in every way. They ate their vegetables. I was a picky eater. They did their homework and got good grades. I never memorized my times tables. They played instruments in band. I quit trombone on my first day of 7th grade.

Schoolwork was difficult for me, and I didn’t really see the value in it. I was described as a “happy go lucky” kid. I liked to socialize with my friends and create art.

None of my teachers found a way to connect learning with creativity. I don’t believe that the problem was that Timmy didn’t have the ability to learn, it was that Ms. Feldsenfeld didn’t have the ability to teach Timmy. If I had only known that art was math, and that language could lead to expressing myself with words, I think my life could have unfolded very differently. Sooner.

I’m not feeling sorry for myself. My life has unfolded at my own pace, and I’ve slowly gained some of the confidence that I was lacking as a kid. The past is the past, and it’s made me who I am today. I am still learning and growing.

I want to instill confidence in kids today, and sometimes my art gives me opportunities to do that. I have mentored kids over the past 25 years, and it has been exciting to see them go out and do wonderful things as adults.

We all need someone to encourage us. To believe in us. especially those kids who feel out of place in the world, like a fish in a tree.

Take heart. It’s not every fish that can scale the heights. You have a unique perspective from the treetops, even if you don’t exactly fit into the school of fish in the pond below. What makes you different? That is your unique gift. There is nothing wrong with you.


Test for Dyslexia: 37 Common Traits – Dyslexia the Gift

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