Being the smallest boy in my class at school meant that I was frequently the butt of bullying and what others saw as fun. I went through my whole school life known as titch. To add to the problems I had bright red hair. The fact that my parents were not financially well off did not help, although this must have been worse for my younger brother, because I would get the new clothes first.
These and other factors meant that I kept myself to myself a great deal of the time. I never allowed myself to get close to people because in the end it usually meant I ended up getting hurt. I still have problems with this, but now I allow people into my space and mostly I can live with any rejection or hurt.
Recently though, I have been reminded again of the lessons of youth and how my father helped me to cope with anger and hurt, and having to find ways to dispel hurt and bad feelings.
I have been reading again the story of the art wall, let me share it with you.
Tony was a nice, cheerful, optimistic boy. No one could remember ever having seen him angry; he didn't mind whatever people said to him. He seemed incapable of insulting anyone. Even his teachers admired his good disposition, which was so unusual that a rumour was going round that Tony´s goodness must be due to some special secret. The fact that there was a supposed secret meant that no one could think about anything else. They interrogated Tony so much that, one afternoon, he invited his favourite teacher, Mrs. Anthony, to tea. When they had finished, Tony showed Mrs. Anthony around the house. When Tony opened his bedroom door, the teacher froze, and a big smile spread across his face.
The huge far wall was a unique collage of thousands of colours and shapes! It was the loveliest decoration Mrs. Anthony had ever seen.
"Some people at school think I never think badly of anyone," Tony started to explain, "and that nothing at all bothers me, and that I never want to insult anyone, but that's not true at all. I'm just like anyone else. I used to get angrier than all the other kids. But years ago, with the help of my parents, I started a small collage. I could use any kind of material and colour for it. With every little piece I stuck on I added some bad thought or act.”
It was true. The teacher looked closely at the wall. In each one of the small pieces he could read, in tiny letters, 'fool', 'idiot', 'pain', 'bore', and a thousand other negative things.
"This is how I started turning all my bad times into an opportunity to add to my collage. Now I like the collage so much that, each time someone makes me angry, I couldn't be happier. They've given me a new piece for my work of art."
That day they discussed many things, but what the teacher never forgot was how an ordinary boy had shown him that the secret to having a cheerful and optimistic character is to convert the bad times into a chance to smile.
Without telling anyone, on that very day, Mrs. Anthony began her own collage. She would recommend it so often to her students that, years later, they called that neighbourhood 'Art Town'. Each house contained its own magnificent works of art, made by those cheerful and optimistic children.
On my other blog I explain the painting used here and the words in the collage. Crosswords