I’m not talking about the kind found in academic institutions here. Though upon reflection I’ll not rule them out, either. But teachers, really they are everywhere in our lives — whether we like to admit it (or recognize them) or not.
Just the other day there was a human interest sort of story in the news about these kids and their “mentors.” It was a feel-good story of how the adult mentors had made significant differences in the children’s lives. As I read I noticed a deep yearning inside me; it was laced with…
This made me sit there and look at myself; I reviewed an old story I’ve been telling myself, and others, for years:
When asked who my mentors and teachers have been I have always shrugged my shoulders and said, “I’ve had none. No one,” thinking of course of the supportive, enthusiastic role-models in formative years who encourage one on. Who say “Good job!”, who bring you roses after your 6th grade play, or arrive on your doorstep with kleenex and chocolate when that first serious relationship ends. I could think of none in my past. No coach, teacher…
But actually there were plenty of role-models and teachers around in my formative years… In my case I was influenced greatly by what not to do. How not to act, or be, or behave. I endeavored to be the opposite of what was being modeled around me. Often, the loudest lessons available to me were cautionary tales. And as an adult, lo those many (these many) years later, I was not thinking that these qualified as the sort of mentors and teachers that I was being asked about.
I was wrong, I realized sitting there. Teachers are everywhere when one is willing to be a student, willing to observe and extract information, integrating it and transforming it into knowledge and, hopefully eventually wisdom. I had been being that student. And, too, in retrospect I must admit I was being overly dramatic. There had been those who gave me encouragement along the way — professors, siblings…
So, I now know/admit/recognize and declare (should anyone ask):
I have had the privilege of being “mentored” by harsh teachers who would rarely give me an inch. By the Great Teachers of Circumstance and Illness that helped me question, helped me discover my limits and the strength of my character. I have been blessed with sweet friendships of long-standing, where we support and learn from one another as the cycles of this life evolve. And I have the joy of being influenced and guided by the presence of natural beauty that is there for me always, every day. So grateful.
I am changing my story. I have changed my story — for myself and for others who may inquire. I have and have had powerful mentors. Thank you to all my teachers…and I look forward to those I have yet to encounter.
Beauty saved me. ~ Mary Oliver, from an interview on PBS