Flowers Never Bend

“There is no ‘I’ in team!” Was that the 80s? I think so. I remember one of my more obnoxious colleagues at the international school blasting this from his ego-driven position of assistant director. The thing is, it bothered him that he was the assistant director. Wasn’t he a MAN? BOTH directors were — gasp — female.

I sat in that meeting mumbling to myself in my mind, “No but there’s ‘meat’ in team. And ‘eat’ and ‘ate’ and ‘mate’ and ‘tea’ and ‘mat’ and ‘tam’. ‘Team’ is full of words.”

The meetings were boring and pointless. I think I got through them by playing Tetris on notebook paper. Seriously. Don’t ask me how I did that, but I did. Then I’d be cut loose and I’d hurry home and I’d get Truffle, Molly and Kelly and head for the hills and begin the process of expunging or exhaling the accumulated human noise in the comparative silence of the hard chaparral hills of Mission Trails Regional Park.

A friend recently sent me a poem that very beautifully and sadly defines our mutual experience. It’s a poem about transience and how we cannot properly know until the moment has long past and the illusion of its return or future has vanished. Still, the experience has changed us and is permanently an aspect of our identity.

It’s difficult to fully understand all that might be wrapped up in a moment. Among other things there is potential. Potential is lovely. There is a kind of rapture in “tomorrow.”

The other side of this? Perhaps the important thing is not fulfilling the potential of something, but the awareness that something has transformed us. Whether or not we understood it, it happened and it was precious, amazing.

28 thoughts on “Flowers Never Bend

  1. The word ‘potential’ always sticks in my craw because I grew up hearing ‘Lois is not working up to her potential.’ I never got to like meetings, either. I survived.

    • At this point in life, I think survival is fulfilling our potential. I always heard that, too. Like they KNEW who I was and what I was supposed to BE or DO? And yet, no one ever told me (which would have been very very helpful 😀 )

    • I was about to say the same. Being an ex-teacher you can imagine how many times I must have written on report cards and conveyed to students during PTMs. Children used to hate this comment like anything.

      • Ha! My dad always came home from parent-teacher conferences talking about my potential, or lack thereof. Yeah, I was not a fan, but glad you could appreciate it.

  2. A resident MD of my acquaintance said his attending surgeon said, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’, but there are 3 ‘U’s in “shut the fuck up!’” They were all afraid of her.

  3. LOL!

    No “I” in “team”? That kind of simplistic nonsense always left me either laughing or seriously annoyed. As you pointed out, the speaker who says this is usually the most “I” centric of the lot.

    What is even funnier is when the boss starts using the royal “we” to show what a team player they are..

  4. Optimum Potential is an over-hyped term in the teaching profession. I went back to my school’s PTMs nightmares telling the same to parents about their child.

    • At this point, having taught so many (older) kids, and seen how that word had interfered with their potential (ha ha) to be happy for find their own star, I think it’s a dangerous thing to say to kids and maybe puts pressure on parents.

        • Lots of euphemisms in teaching. I remember in kindergarten my report card had the comment, “Shows leadership potential” which meant, “Your little girl bosses around the other kids.”

          • haha! Martha–I can so picture you being a girl boss back then! Oh, I love that. Of course, we might say you ‘took charge of the situation.’

            • I had vision! I just wanted to realize my ideas, and as a little kid they were often in my mind as “plays” or role plays and I wanted my friends to be what I saw in my mind. (I couldn’t understand why THEY didn’t see the same thing!) When I began drawing complicated scenes (around the same time) I quit bossing people around.

  5. I see surviving shows what we’re really made of, thus having demonstrated what we are capable of, and our potential

  6. Fulfilling one’s potential, whatever that may be, requires a lot of comppromises that may not be worth making. We thank our lucky stars that the journey brought you here, Martha, because our worlds are much richer for your presence.

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