When Elizabeth Gilbert was young
her mother made her practice
by standing outside their house
Each time her mom would pretend
to be someone else;
creating new scenarios,
waiting to see how
Elizabeth would react.
Helping her to be brave enough
to talk to strangers–
to convince them
that they wanted
what she had to offer.
Now she says those games with her mom
served her well.
They helped her get a job
as an adult.
They paved the way
for the tough parts
Making it easier
to put pen to paper
and write her memoirs
and the novels.
When I was little
I used to do practice interviews
in bed before I drifted off to sleep.
I would hold my stuffies in my arms,
the pretend microphone in my hand,
and answer any questions the crowds had for me.
I think I wanted to be famous.
As I got older I would often
pretend to be at a job interview.
While in the car I would pass the time
by conjuring up sample questions.
I hoped the more I practiced,
the calmer and more competent I would
be when the real thing came along.
I would pose this question:
“What three words best describe yourself?”
For the longest time my answer was:
creative, cautious and compassionate.
I liked the alliteration
and that in some way
it represented head, heart and hands.
But now those choices seem inadequate.
The exercise itself seems
outdated and silly,
maybe even impossible.
How do you distill your essence
down to a handful of letters?
Baker–not butcher –but maybe candlemaker.
Mother, wife, friend.
Librarian, bookseller and teacher.
Photographer, writer and artisan.
But there are so many parts of me
Perhaps that is the true challenge:
To try and find the words that best describe.
That mostly tell your story
and complete the picture.
Knowing full well that there
are other parts–
secret and indescribable.
Those bits of yourself you do not share
Have you ever imagined
yourself in this way?
What if we could
cut bits away,
whittle everything down,
carve the extraneous…
Until all that remains