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April 05, 2011


Wow, so much to think about, where to start? The food and scarcity analogy works beautifully with your writer envy, and don't think that the envy is something fueled by just your own past. When I see other educators presenting to crowds of hundreds at conferences, I often will taste the bitter root of jealously work it's way across my tongue.

"I could easily do just as well up there!" is something I feel as well. Perhaps it's related to the fact that a person experienced too little food, or love, or attention when they were young, but I think too that there's an element of being in a field that only praises the successful, and often neglects the rank and file. Education and journalism are distant cousins, dealing with the same genetically inherited deficiencies.

We call the local journalists "hacks", yet the prominent national journalists are rock stars; even when they're hated, they're hated big time, but locals and the vast majority of journalists and writers just seem to be treated as though what they do isn't that important, or are terrible at their jobs, by a very vocal segment of the population. We PRAISE rock-star educators like Michelle Rhee (well, I don't praise her), and Rafe Esquith, but the classroom teachers down the street seem to only be praised by the parents and vilified by the larger populace.

Maybe it's just a lack of recognition that continues to fuel the fire lit by your sense of scarcity. I know even just the tiniest comment that someone put an ounce of thought into on my blog often tends to boost my self confidence.

Beautiful. If this is what getting more of what you talked about in your Feb. 15 post Taking Space http://isak.typepad.com/isak/2011/02/a-risk.html then please keep bringing it on. Insightful and compelling....

Anna, I love you. Thanks for sharing this story. You are brave and beautiful and amazing. I hope we can have a meal together soon, and talk about writing. XO, Chris

Anna, this is incredible. Thank you for posting it and for sharing such a genuinely touching and inspiring story. While I am not a writer in the traditional sense, I feel very similarly when I see law articles that I would have wanted to write and when people present about stress management to lawyers using yoga teachings, but then I feel guilty about those pangs of jealousy. I know, deep down, that we do not live in a zero-sum world. I think you say it best - there will always be stories to tell. Living that and truly knowing it on the cellular level that you mention is the hardest part, but the more times we remind ourselves about the abundance this world holds, the easier it will be to convince the cells it is true. Thank you for this beautiful post!

OMG. This is awesome, enlightening, scolding, and thought-provoking. I am reminded that, as a kid, I ate saltines and milk for breakfast. Why the heck couldn't I have written this terrific piece? It's not fair ;)

Anna, thank you for this. Helping me see my own entitlement issues (which spawned, thankfully, a lifelong belief in abundance... but now showing their shadow side in my current scarcity, both financial and creative). Great love and wisdom in your work. Thank you for that as well.

This was wonderful Anna, thanks for sharing. And I got a little teary eyed at Dad only having potatoes and radishes for us. Good work.

Wow, folks. The response to these experiments with public vulnerability and personal storytelling are heartening! Thank you.

Ben: Your connection to the education world is really interesting, and so is the insight into the habit we have of reserving praise for a few in any field. Recognition seems like such an easy and reasonable thing to offer one another ... it's interesting that individually and broadly, we ACT as if we have so much recognition to dole out, even if it is actually a rather unlimited supply.

Jacob: I'll try. :)

Chris: YES. I'm hungry just thinking about it.

Rebecca: You know, it's interesting how even though we experience envy so personally (gut-wrenchingly), it so common, even across different fields. And it's an interesting tangential side of envy to not just feel jealous when someone does (and is recognized) for doing what we want to do, but to see someone have this success FIRST. As if whatever successes we are destined for matter less if someone else already accepted the same trophy.

Karen: You too with the saltines and milk?! Wow! I thought that was just a weirdness of the Clark household. I would love to read your writing, about crackers or otherwise.

Lisa: Thank you. I'd be curious about whatever you learn on the abundance/scarcity journey that you're on. And I'm interested in how wherever we start on this abundance/scarcity wheel, most of us move through cycles of them. A good lesson in not getting our self-identification attached to one or the other. I'm thinking now of the lessons that seasons have to offer us ...

Elizabeth: Thanks back. And: me too.

Powerful comment there Anna in speaking about trophies. Why journey to the stone, when the sword has already been taken?

Love this post! Wow- thanks so much for sharing this story, it's amazing! Thanks for illuminating "both sides" of entitlement/wanting, abundance/scarcity.....

wow. scalding and brave. this is perfect. thanks for leading me to this column. "prestige" comes from "juggler's tricks" eh? amazing!

Anna, if you are jealous it doesn't show. "Celebrating tales and truth" is what you've always done, in a very sincere way.

'Sugar' makes a couple good points but is quite the hypocrite. It's written in that tone of snarky condescension that seems to be the default of internet writing, as if there is a competition to see who can tally the most zingers. Here we have a medium that has the capabilities of being democratic to all stories, and their tellers, that is free of the shackles of artificial scarcity you speak of (the illusion that sustains 'prestigious' academic institutions) and STILL most internet writers I read write with paranoia that someone will outsmart them and somehow take their place.

But Isak has never come off that way, ever. It's honest in a way that is additive, not zero-sum. So, if you are jealous you must hide it well.

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  • Isak is a space to celebrate tales and truth in the curious, joyful way embodied by the writer for which it is named. The name "Isak," after all, means "laughter," as she was fond of pointing out.

    By tales, I mean fiction (especially short fiction), as well as other literary and artistic narratives. By truth, I mean the world in which we live. I especially have my eye on creative social justice.

    Isak: The Extended Version
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