What or Who Do You Want To Be?

There once was an eleven-year-old blonde girl who wished she were a boy.  She wished it so much that when the grade six class was auditioning for Robin Hood, she wanted nothing more than to be one of the merry men.  It would be such fun, she thought, carrying a bow and arrow and saving the poor people from the bad guys.  And so she tried out for the play, convinced that she would be selected as one of the merry men in the band.

The teacher had a different idea about how the selection process should go.  In fact that teacher whose name is long forgotten, decided the little blonde girl should be Maid Marion.  You could not have two roles farther removed from one another - one of the merry men or Maid Marion?  The disappointment was huge even when the teacher pointed out that the merry men were supporting roles and Maid Marion was a lead role.  The little girl didn't care.  She wanted to race around the stage with the band of merry men rescuing people, she didn't want to wear a dress and have to say lots of lines.

What she wanted and what actually happened unfolded very differently.  There was no racing anywhere, only sedate walking back and forth across the stage.  There were no people for her to rescue and she had to wear a long red dress sewn especially for the play.  There were lots of lines to learn and she was petrified of forgetting them.  She argued with the teacher pleading for a part as a merry man but the teacher was adamant that the little girl was the best choice for Maid Marion.

And so, the little girl made her stage debut as Maid Marion in the grade six play.  She moved easily across the stage even in the long dress, which she developed quite a liking for because it was very elaborate and beautiful.  She learned her part and delivered her lines dramatic ease.  The play was a hit and the little girl received lots of praise and attention for her leading role but she had to still pretend to be annoyed with the teacher for not letting her be a merry man.

Years passed and the little girl grew up, and as she grew she wondered from time to time what had possessed that teacher to insist that the biggest little tomboy in the class be Maid Marion.  Forty years passed and still the question rolled around inside her head from time to time.  The grown woman wondered if the stubbornness and potential-spotting ability of a teacher years ago proved to be formative.  While the little girl was thinking about what she wanted to be, the teacher was thinking about whom the little girl was capable of being.

The little girl only saw far enough to want to be one of the merry men in the band.  The teacher provided a glimpse of the possibility of who the little girl already was and who she might become in the future through the seeming-less innocuous activity of the class play.  There is a powerful message hidden somewhere between the what and the who.