It is time to come clean and declare that I have cut some corners in my life. Spelling seems to be at the heart of it. On the other hand, I have mastered grammar in a very unconventional matter, not by learning how it works, but by reading tons and tons of great novels. If pressed in a moment I wouldn’t be able to tell you why a sentence sounds good but I can definitely identify one and certainly write one.

But I am not without flaws and spelling is at the core of it. 

When we got here in January of 1985, I was twelve years old. The only English words I knew were yes and no, and I learned those on the flight. We also managed to bungle up my fathers name Franciszek which should have been Francis, like Francis of Assisi who he was named after, but instead I found the name Frank in the little book I had, and it stuck. At twelve I should have been placed in grade seven, but my father and mother put me back a year knowing that starting High School in a year would not be easy for me and it wasn’t. I had two years to learn what other kids in Canada had twelve to master and so I cut corners. Spelling is one of those corners. 

I am not sure why my weakness in spelling has become the subject of my morning musing, but it relates well to failing and fear. When I think of hiding, I automatically think of my inability to spell. The irony of course is that I am an English teacher. Ok, I am not a bad speller, but I notice each and every time I make a mistake and it stings. Stings to a point that I prefer not to speak or write or communicate, and that has been my undoing over the many years. 

There are many people out there who hide and don’t try things because they are afraid to make a mistake. They don’t want to look foolish. They don’t feel ready. They don’t feel worthy. But if a terrible speller can have the courage to write each and every morning. If that speller can have the courage to make mistakes and commit himself to mistakes, you should have the courage to do whatever is in your heart as well.

After all, we only get better by doing and not by hoping to do. 

It is by doing that we become better, that we have the ability to change the world and change ourselves in the process. 

There is absolutely no reason why an immigrant boy from Poland should be writing in a language that was not his own. There is no reason for it but that is precisely the point. 

Not doing something because someone else may look down upon it and not understand is not a reason to give in and hide. Hiding is terrible. It robs your soul of sustenance it can only get by roaming in the open.

Your heart needs an open space. It needs permission to fail and not understand. It begs for an opportunity to start again. So, give your heart that space. Give yourself permission to fail and fail again and again. There is no other way to be happy. There is no better way that leads to success. Don’t let spelling mistakes and all other hang-ups stop you from leading the life you deserve to lead.

Spell badlly. Live boldly.

Cover photo generously provided by photographer Visit Heng.