I once had a collective of women I mentored who in exchanged worked as my assistants. At the time I was throwing parties and setting up large-scale art exhibits that required a lot of manpower and time. It was fun and fulfilling work that all parties benefitted from. But I required more, I required them to work on themselves. And that's where it stopped being fun.
I saw so much potential in these young women. I understood their passion for the arts, their yearning for more and I was convinced that they could achieve greatness. I had the formula, they just had to execute. And when they didn't follow through I'd have harsh criticisms and express disappointment. My attempts to encourage them to improve themselves ended in discouragement. Discouraging them from working with me, discouraging them from their interest in the arts and discouraging them to dream.
When I say dream, I don't mean future goals and aspirations. I mean being in a dream-like state, in a state of euphoria or the very simple act of escaping one's personal reality. A lot of times people are doing something they have an interest in for the moment but have very little desire to make it a career. These people are exceptional hobbyists and can work on the level of an aspiring professional but will become inefficient when things stop being fun. In the arts, it's hard to distinguish the hobbyists from the aspiring professional because being a hobbyist is so frowned upon. These people won't ever admit to others and in a lot of cases themselves that they are there to help and have fun. Once you begin putting pressure on them they begin to reveal themselves.
But not every young woman under my tutelage during that time were unidentified hobbyists. Most of them were serious about their passions, serious about bringing my dreams to fruition and serious about the bond we had formed through the arts. But like most young women, they had drama in their lives. The mitigating circumstance that impeded their growth that I refused to consider was a real thing. But at the time I thought they were frivolous growing pains. I offered the same simple solution for complicated problems:
'Abandon your humanity for your passion. If you were serious about this work you'd suspend your reality and focus on bringing our collective dreams to fruition.'
In hindsight, this was selfish, inconsiderate and above all else, insensitive.
And there were girls with me during that time who weren't hobbyists with a hot mess of a life. Young women who had it together that were serious about being better, achieving greatness and actualizing a career in the arts. I agitated their growth by rushing them and not respecting their pace. Telling them how much more they could be doing faster. How I had the shortcut to help them avoid the pitfalls of wasted time and energies. Grossly neglecting the fact that people need to learn on their own through trial and error.
This Hi-DRATE sermon isn't just a lesson for the Master Teachers out there putting young people under their wing. It's also an apology to those young women from a recent past that feels like ancient history to me now. I hopeya'll achieve personal greatness despite me and I hope I didn't extinguish your flame. I still believe in and have faith in your potential.
-Earl 'Wolf' Davis