Ah, 2015 has come upon us. I am glossy-eyed and eager to get things hopping and skipping away. I read recently that Marky Mark-I mean Mark Wahlberg the former Calvin Klein turned respectable actor- is seeking a pardon for his crime from over 20 years ago. Specifically he is asking the governor of Massachusetts to pardon him for a horrible hate crime he committed against an Asian man that left said man blind in one eye. I was drawn to this story because who knew that Marky Mark had truly been a street thug and not just a poser? Also, a story of forgiveness and redemption is always of interest. Apparently, Marky Mark believes he should be forgiven because he has turned his life around and has become a model citizen. Hmm. I suppose the Governor will have to pass judgment on that.
Marky Mark’s quest for a pardon got me thinking about individuals I myself may want to pardon. It’s a new year and thus I should let go of grudges or bad feelings. Mind you, I won’t be doing any of my own pardoning for anyone that I have been aggrieved by recently in the past six months. Too soon.
Looking back, I have decided to pardon my sixth grade art teacher. Mrs. Phieffer gave me a bad grade in sixth grade for I supposedly did not complete an art project. She was incorrect. I had completed and had done it well. My mother and I had sat together as we always did when I had a project. My mother and I loved going to the five and dime store to get art supplies. We would save up money to get cool artistic materials so we could do cool projects together. There was no way possible that I did not turn in an art project.
My mother and I went to talk to and reason with her. However, Mrs. Phieffer would not budge. Se refused to believe that I turn din my project and that she was the one that misplaced it. I left broken-hearted. I was not used to bad grades. I was not used to failure. All teachers knew I was a model student that was headed for grand things. All teachers knew that I was a gem. I could not wrap my head around her refusal to see her error. I went home and cried and cried. I was so inconsolable. For a few days my trust in the educational system was dampened. Eventually I got past that grand episode of disappointment.
Although, I got past the episode I did not forget that incident. It shook me and made me realize that I could not take much for granted in life. I also held onto a certain resentment towards that teacher. It was my first failure, after all. These days we relish failures. Well, we welcome them so that e may learn from them. Back then, I didn’t get to relish that failure. When you are a dirt-poor girl from the South Bronx you are already starting from a certain deficit. A failure, many failures occurred every day all around one. There were people who tried to find a job but who couldn’t. There were people who tried diligently to make money stretch way past where it could. There were people who tried to find a way out of the ghetto but faced many setbacks. Thus, a failure didn’t help build resilience the way it is bandied about these days. That first academic failure was indeed traumatic for me. Every grade was important to my survival. Obviously, I went on to still succeed. But in that moment, a dark moment, I was scared I would not.
Today, I dive into 2015 having reached past many past failures and dark moments. I know I can survive them and turn them into lessons learned that will propel me forward. In that vein, I forgive Mrs. Pheiffer as my first pardon of the year. I breathe out the ire and let in a sense of peace.