Nerve

“You’ve got some nerve!”

“It takes a lot of nerve to come back here after what you did?”

“What a nerve-wracking experience!”

“You hit a raw nerve.”

I think of having to give an apology for something one has done wrong.  It takes a lot of composure and determination – nerves, to face the music and say I’m sorry.

I, for example, am coaching little league this year for the first time.  Many might consider this a nerve-wracking experience.  I suppose.  I’m trying not to view it that way.  For me, it’s a new experience but I’m trying to have nerves of steel in the sense that I am trying not to let the pressure of winning and perfection rule me.  Although winning is important.

New things are nerve-wracking.  I think of many of my students who have left their home country for America, for American High School, exposure to classes where the English they’re exposed to is far above their proficiency and where often times, a cloak of invisibility is more comforting than being teased or bullied.  Talk about nerves of steel.

We all have different sorts of trauma and all of them leave us nerve-wracked.  Trauma from divorce.  Trauma from being raised in war.  Trauma from being raised by alcoholic parents, by abusive parents, by negligent parents.  Trauma from rape.  Trauma from racism.  Trauma from bullying.  Trauma from being ignored.  And on and on.  Nerves.  Wracked.  We are like cans of paint in the clutches of the paint shaking machine.

Nerve?  How about those folks who stand on the corners with their signs promoting some business.  I don’t know if I would ever have the nerve to be able to do that.  I’d be too embarrassed because I’m perpetually self-conscious.  But.  If I had to, I’d like to be like the cracked windshield guy on the corner of Fairview and Locust Grove in Meridian, Idaho.  That guy loves what he does!  He holds his sign while always throwing hellos out with his hands to passing cars with truncated movements as if conducting an orchestra.

Then there are beggars with their signs.

“What nerve!” we might say in disgust.  We’re blindfolded many times although we see clearly.  Does this person actually need money because they are down on their luck?  Or, is this person scamming me?  Are they taking my money and walking to the Lexus they have parked in a parking lot down the road?  Charlatans!  What nerve!

Writers have to have a lot of nerve.  We insist, arrogantly or modestly, that our voice matters and that what we have to say matters.  Some of us do have to insist a little louder than others because of our personalities; or like me, wasn’t exactly raised in an environment or exposed to opportunities that cultivated my confidence.  We insist that our view of things are different, more creative, better or even more accurate than the status quo or another’s view of things.  We insist that our stories matter.  We insist that we matter because the greatest nonbeliever always needs convincing.  Ourselves.

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