there are signs.

You were fourteen and watching the head of athletics whiz about town in a sporty little BMW while your band director shared a minivan with his wife. Their house was tiny; its saving grace was its distance from the school, or lack thereof. He could walk on a sunny day. Likely he walked a lot. You didn’t know the words you’re learning now, but you knew it wasn’t right somehow, so you complained very loudly but nobody listened. You must not have complained loudly enough.

You don’t remember anyone caring overmuch about the obvious difference in their salaries. You knew by your senior year that the school wasn’t a commune or anything; some people, who had got theirs, had the audacity to complain about things like parades being called off or only played by the brass in the rain. You did try to explain that the director went down hard with flu anyway, and that woodwinds ought never to get that wet, but nobody listened. You must not have explained well enough.

When you and the best part of your community gathered to plead for the music program, you told the school board that if it hadn’t been for that music program, you might well have killed yourself; high school wasn’t worth it to you without that form of art therapy, or your dysfunctional but distinct family of musicians. Even now you still wonder whether you should have stayed in Germany instead. But you came back, you stopped being able to fly, and you leaned with all your weight on the band. It held you up. So instead of going out to dinner on that birthday (twenty-four? twenty-five?) you took the podium and told a very difficult story. You tasted speaking truth to power instead of your favorite stuffed pasta. This time you came with an army. This time they had to listen.

(This is an example of systems theory you can’t ignore. As part of a change agent system, you marched on the action system and came to the target system’s rescue for the sake of the macro client system. Generalist practice is intuitive to you. Thank God you are discovering this when you’ve committed to the profession. Thank God you are finding reasons to go on in your textbooks.)

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