I blame Amy Cuddy, having recently finished her book Presence I’ve been keyed into body language. So when I came across feminist icon Gertrude Stein’s “portrait” in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, I was struck by her pose – specifically her lack of a power pose.
According to the blurb, the artist created it very intentionally in the shape of the Buddha, which is something I can appreciate – but still. My first impression was of a sad old woman, I stood above her as she looked down her face shaded, her back stooped.
I frowned. I wanted to see her enlivened, powerful!
And then –I’m not sure why — I did something weird.
I got my knees and I looked up.
As you can see
That changed everything.
It reminded me of teaching early in my career at Philadelphia’s University City high school (shoot out the Black Bottom). I was working with a student on her college applications – and she told me about another student who didn’t want my help and how she thought that was crazy. (I’m sure it was meant as a compliment).
Yesterday, I was reminded again because clearly, I needed it, that sharing knowledge is an act of grace. To learn requires admitting you don’t know everything, to teach is to learn, and to offer wisdom to those who need to be willing to accept it on faith.