My experience with esteem can’t be found in Webster’s or Wiki. It’s first found in my nephew: Nino. He was born with Asperger’s syndrome, a high functioning form of autism, and has been like a son to me. As a music teacher and musician, I am witness to the healing, emotional and physiological effects of music in one’s life.
With his disconnected social and emotional output, I quickly introduced him to percussion instruments. Soon after, vocal melody and the piano. Not to transform him into a child prodigy, but to give him a “friend”. Because of music, compared to his peers, he was more content, less agitated, more disciplined and certainly happier.
At school, he revealed that his best friend Jeffrey was being picked on. The other boys found out that he was taking cultural dance classes and started calling him “twinkle toes.” Jeffrey was crushed and soon stopped taking lessons despite his mother’s insistence to learn her cultural dances. I asked Nino if he felt embarrassed about music and if he didn’t want to be apart of it. (After all, we can’t afford to lose friends. Special ed friends are kinda hard to come by) With his limited abilities to communicate his feelings he replied, “I’m not ashamed. Music is a part of ME.”
Woah … blown away. A 10 year old who has a mature, synergistic, relationship with music. A child who can classify where his confidence and esteem lie. A child who holds the cornerstone of something greater than himself in his mind and heart; whatever that may reveal itself to be. Most adults don’t exhibit that kind of esteem.
In fact, as adults were constantly looking outward most hours of the day. We gauge and assess, we tweak and predict, we work for reward or applause. And when that applause doesn’t come, it can hurt or shake us.
Who knew a 10 year could teach me esteem? Who knew we could find our own peace in the stillness of gratitude, blessing, learning and giving? Who knew esteem was contagious?