By Asther Creo
I started to attend recently a local writers group in my community. I have not been writing actively for awhile and thought this would bring back my writing mojo. So one cold Wednesday night I rocked up my local library and sat in the two-hour story critique session with five other aspiring writers from the western suburbs.
It was a nice little group which was already tightly bonded, but they welcomed me in. I felt they initially tried to suss me out a bit, asked little questions on where I was in my writing, and looked me at the corner of their eyes when I spoke. That was alright, they already had their group dynamics going well and I was a newbie trying to get in.
The fact that the group was already functioning well was actually quite refreshing; I can just slink in and slink out depending on life’s other demands. My absence will not make the cogs in the wheel stop, to borrow a cliché. Nor do I have to feel pressured to contribute everytime, all the time. I can at times just sit back and soak it all in, and just be the recipient of people’s knowledge without feeling the need that I have to overexert. I can just be me, whoever that is at any particular time.
A pebble in a pond. This metaphor has been overused, usually in the sense of how one feels infinitesimally small within a group, an organisation, or even the vastness of humankind. But if you look at it another way, is it not in fact liberating to look at oneself in this way?
To be a pebble means to occupy but a small yet not insignificant space; to influence the organisms within your immediate environment, but not the whole pond; to bring your own creative being to support the minutiae of life around you, but not the entire species: To do only what you can, and what you were created to be capable of doing. That, and nothing more.
And so as I bask in this epiphany and the beauty it brings to my experience in this writers group, I reflect on our different motivations in holding on to positions of community leadership. When do power and service start and end? How great the community leader who can accept with humility that we are all just pebbles in a pond–and often our greatness is when we accept our limitations and allow others into the pond with us, so we can create a community of sharing and real and genuine service.