Daniel the Difficult

Charles M. Bidwell, 2002

Daniel was an ordinary boy, as boys go. But Daniel was difficult. At least that's what everyone said about him.

As a baby, Daniel liked to make designs with his spaghetti. His mother said he was difficult to keep clean and tidy.

In kindergarten, Daniel would colour outside the lines. If he was supposed to colour a daisy, he would dash the yellow crayon much wider and turn it into a sunflower. His teacher said Daniel was difficult to control.

In second grade, when he was supposed to walk with the others, Daniel often skipped. He was difficult to keep in line.

When he practiced his violin, Daniel danced around the room. It drove his father to distraction. His father said that he was difficult to live with. His father thought the best way to keep Daniel from being so difficult would be to swap the violin for a bass and then see if he could dance with that.

By the time Daniel got to high school, everyone was calling him Daniel the Difficult.

It's not that he set out to be difficult. It's just that he kept seeing things differently than others did. He kept seeing another way to be and to do things.

When it came time to date and go to dances and movies, Daniel wanted to go with another boy. His parents said he was just being difficult again. Why couldn't he take that nice girl in his Sunday school class to the dance? Why couldn't he talk about girls the way his brothers and cousins and classmates did?

Daniel had never tried to live his life so that other people would be happy. He lived his life the way he felt was right for him. It was as if he heard different drums beating and he was dancing to them. His dancing through life never hurt anyone; it just annoyed others that he didn't behave the way they expected him to.

Then one year Daniel went away to college. At college, nobody knew him. Nobody knew he was known as Daniel the Difficult. They didn't expect anything special. They just saw him as he really was. They saw him as Daniel, period. The other students and the instructors didn't know that he was someone who wouldn't colour inside the lines. They didn't know that he once skipped when he was supposed to walk or that he danced when he played the fiddle.

When they got to know Daniel, they liked the fact that he had different ideas. To them, he had such a happy way of doing things. They liked to be around him because they wanted to see what new way Daniel would have of meeting every situation. Nobody called him Daniel the Difficult. In fact, he became known as Daniel the Different and people liked to be with him because he had such surprising and interesting ways of seeing things and of doing things.

I guess the way you look at people can make them seem difficult or it can make them seem different. If you see them as difficult, then they will always be a problem for you. But if you see them as different, then they will always be interesting. I guess the next time I think someone is being difficult, I should stop and think perhaps they're just being different and that they could be an interesting person to get to know. What do you think?