Sunday, April 10, 2011

Caught in the middle of someone else's assumptions

Ballet is full of movement and drama. At the moment, that's true for us in the studio as well as on stage: Dancer's school has imploded. Blech! The artistic director is heading one way and the owner and assistant director are heading another.

There are plot twists: the school was going to close for financial reasons (then it wasn't), the artistic director was told to leave (or he wasn't), he's lying/she's lying/everyone's twisting the truth. There are whispered conversations, a flurry of email, official and secret meetings.

I remind myself that most of this tempest is unimportant unless I choose to swim in the teapot. I can ignore the bickering over details, since it's pretty clear there was fault on both sides. I don't have to engage in speculation or gossip. All I need is to know enough to do my job, which is to find Dancer excellent training with strong (and stable) instructors. That could mean choosing side A, or side B, or going elsewhere.

So I listen to the main players, and sift through their strategically-spun stories, and balance what they say against what I know about their characters. And as I talk cautiously with others I'm reminded of a peculiar aspect of life: no matter how discreet and honest and trustworthy one is, people only trust you as much as they trust themselves. Those who tell tales assume that you will, too. Those who deceive assume it's the norm. Those who tell the truth but leave out a few highly pertinent details figure that everyone else does the same. It doesn't occur to them that you might just be trying to be... honest.

Which is all the more reason to be trustworthy, I think. Because if you're not out there as an example of how to live life that way, how will others even know that it's possible?

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