February 21

Waiting for the Glimmer

I’ve spent the past few days at a Modern Quilt convention in Austin, Texas. I was teaching classes there primarily on color theory and design. My classes, as well as many others sold out in less than an hour with many people traveling from all over the world to take the workshops. As an instructor it’s a lot of pressure. It would be horrible for these people to have traveled so far and not enjoy the 6 hours they spent in my class.

So as I’m talking I’m looking for the glimmer in each of their eyes that signals that something I’ve said or shown them is resonating with them. It’s very subtle. Sometimes it’s a shift in the head or a change in the eyes. And I desperately want to see it. I want to know that what I’m saying is useful and that all of my preparation, and hauling 100 lbs of quilts across the country and staying in the cruddy hotel and eating bad meals and sleep-deprivation and arranging for the kids to sleep at someone else’s house because my stupid flight back has a layover in Houston which means that I won’t get home until 1am or so and Bill will have already left to teach his round of classes here. This dizzying schedule is all planned so someone will hand me a check, presumably. But I will not be satisfied with a check. I must have the glimmer. I must see the head nod. There’s a checklist in my head of definitions of success for this 6 hours: “this is the best class I’ve ever had” is one option. Also, “I wish I had learned this 20 years ago,” or “I’m going to totally look at color differently, this was great” or ” the next day to hear, “I was up all night thinking about the class” are also possibilities. Our society doesn’t place a great deal of monetary value on these classes. But I see it. It’s the glimmer and the slightly frozen look on their faces as they try to process some new idea I’ve explained to them that has opened their minds to a new idea or a new way of thinking.  That’s the real payment.