Having a Ball with Tim Seston on Network Wednesday

 

Would you like to share?

It’s a simple enough question . . . but maybe not.

Let’s start with a tangible item.

 

You are throwing a tennis ball against the wall at your local playground.  A friend comes over, gives a smile, and seamlessly joins your game.  The question is implicit in your friend’s actions.   The answer is clear by your willingness and enjoyment of this new experience.  Another friend arrives and asks to join the fun.  The first friend looks to you with encouragement and soon three of you are taking turns throwing the ball against the wall.

 

The game shifts slightly.  It is no longer a game of catch.   A new objective is agreed upon.  You have been included in the process and boundaries for a new game have been established.  The goal is now to throw the ball in such a way so that your opponents try and catch the tennis ball but drop it instead.  The game is fun.  There are just three of you and plenty of opportunity to engage in the activity.

 

You throw the ball at an angle off the wall and it goes past both your friends.  Another child has been watching from the side and takes the opportunity to fetch the ball and start playing.  The new child knows one of your friends but this is the first time you have met.  Perhaps you were asked again if you would like to share but more as a gesture rather than truly offering you a choice.

 

The game continues to be fun and draws a crowd of more participants.  The experience has evolved but to a point in which you no longer have control.  New rules are suggested and the game proceeds.  There is no order to who throws and who catches the ball.  You continue to participate but now you catch and throw the ball about one out of every ten times.  It is fun being part of the group.  At some point do you want to have your ball back?  Is it possible?  What choices do you have?

 

I started this story with a tennis ball because there is a pile of them outside my window.  Some of the balls have been chewed by dogs, others have been mashed by lawn mowers, and most have been discolored by time.   It is after all just a tennis ball.

 

In this story, you can keep playing until the game ends, or you can take your ball and leave, or you can even walk away and leave the tennis ball behind.  But what if the item has more significance?  Would the new bouncy ball that you were given for your birthday last week have changed the progression of the story above?  At what point would you have asserted your ownership and kept control?  Would you have established an exit plan at the beginning?  Would you be as flexible a participant?  Can the game still evolve to your benefit as well as the whole?  I think it can.

 

Can you think about a similar scenario with something less tangible and therefore more opportunity to change?  You are asked to do this each time you take part in conversation, meet new people, network within a community, and dare to speak your mind.  Sometimes your contributions are like the tennis ball; you can excuse yourself at any time.  But more often your contributions are like the new bouncy ball you got for your birthday.  You are committed to the company you have joined.  What are the challenges?  What emotions are unveiled?  What are the benefits to you and to others?

 

Would you like to share your experiences?

Would you like to share your ideas?

Would you like to share your song?

 

In 2009, I first became a CMN Member and have been sharing my experiences, ideas and songs ever since.   Each time I go to a workshop, step on stage, or participate in the forum, I do so with varying degrees of confidence, expectation, and purpose.  Collectively my interactions with our community have been an invaluable part of my growth as a teacher, as a parent, as a performer and as a human being.

 

This new chapter as editor of the CMN Blog is exciting.  With great fortune, I lean on the success of past editors, Jessica Hebron, Alina Celeste and Liz Buchanan.  This first blog is my new ball put into play.  It is humbly offered in the hopes that we will evolve together.  Some friends will join me to contribute their diverse perspectives for and with our community.  An email campaign asking CMN members to share their “Most Sung Song” is in the works.  For now I look forward to the holiday season sharing the joys of our collective selves with family, friends and community.

All the best on this Network Wednesday

4 comments

  1. Great first article, Tim! Thank you to those who came before you, and thank you to you for stepping up to play in this new way! I had a feeling as I was reading that this was a metaphor. I thought of when we put a song out there, when others sing it and it’s fun to have them join in, or when others take our song and change it up a bit to suit their preferences…Do we want to control that? Do we like the changes? Do we want it back the way we offered it? Always a chance we take when we share a song, and a compliment when someone else wants to “play with it.” Interesting ideas to consider.

  2. Such a great analogy of the risk and rewards of sharing, engaging and the value of dialogue. I do believe we all grow through taking these risks, even though we may lose control of the conversation or outcome — even though it might be painful as well.

    Thanks for throwing out the first pitch, Tim. I will take a few swings (and hope not to strike out).

    Alice

  3. I don’t quite know what to say but WOW–great topic, Tim! And what a great way to get us thinking (as my son calls it, “metacognating”!) about our own confidence and points of withdrawal. As the parent of a child on the autism spectrum, I can readily relate to the scenario you described as being extremely difficult for my son to manage. Not only are the questions challenging, but the whole social dynamic is constantly shifting before your eyes, and the nuances can often be imperceptible–and yet they are there and require decoding. This is practically impossible for some children…and, I find, even many adults. I find it interesting that even performers who glow on stage can be quite retiring, even timid, in small social settings. Making yourself vulnerable is an act of courage. Sometimes when we do that we are “shot down” by others–intentionally or not. But sometimes we are rewarded with rich conversation, developing friendships and a positive feeling that gives us that great endorphin rush! In today’s climate, it may seem as though there are too many challenges to make being vulnerable worthwhile; there is an awful lot of negativity in the media and social media that can influence our risk-taking behavior (in both positive and negative ways). But I’ve found that if I do make myself vulnerable I am frequently pleasantly surprised by the response. And when it is not a pleasant response, I am learning to accept that that is alright as well. There is something to be learned from each exposure. Thanks for starting us off in such a great way, Tim. I look forward to your posts!

  4. Welcome Tim!

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