“You teach best what you most need to learn.” Richard Bach. An entire week has been spent allowing these words to slowly simmer, my mind swirling as it attempted to wrap an analysis around this brilliance, seasoning them with the past, present, and future in random order.
Richard Bach’s work was rejected 18 times before his book, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” was published and became a number one best seller.
He found a love in flying and wrote his passion into stories. Discovering your passion is one step, developing and sharing it to make an impact on others is another huge step. This author’s work, after years of perseverance, eventually inspired millions of readers.
My work continues to evolve within the cadence of daily family activities. My moments of reflection glare at me daily and screech, “Just keep learning.” Humility knocks me down repeatedly with each hurdle faced while navigating an overwhelming learning curve.
A certain style of teaching is naturally built into my maternal being. Ask any of my children. In fact, just this week, my son reads my writing and says, “ You are a philosopher, Mom.” And I laugh and ask him, “Why?”. Pointing the question right back at me, he replies, “Because you are always asking and explaining why.” “That’s why!”
So, who’s the teacher, here? His matter-of-fact youthful appraisal is exactly the reason why I can now finish this piece of work.
Last week as I wallowed in my rut and false starts ruled my days, I turned to my journals, where I penned advice to myself over the years. The following words jumped off the page to wake me from a paralytic state. “To get out of a rut, be more childlike. Watch a child make fun out of just about anything!”
Questions form. What fuels the enthusiasm of a child? Why are children gifted with the innate ability to face challenges with such vigor?
Of course, a vision of my own childhood sneaks out of the memory bank. Days of pretend play out as I watch a movie starring an exuberant and entrepreneurial spirited child build bakeries filled with various delicacies, run a bank with professional and caring service, and eventually design an entire town all from the dirt, acorns, grass and leaves in her backyard. The main plot radiates throughout the picturesque frames, as she also tends to her imaginary home complete with myriads of children.
Seeds of creative inspiration were being planted in the garden of my youth, taking root in my heart and soul. Can you recall some of your own seeds?
A child’s belief, “Everything is possible”, shines in neon. Zealous exploration propels each day’s journey of discovery. Within this tiny framework of a person, lives a larger than life motivation often resulting in exponential results. And every day, a new “Star is Born.”
My father’s stories often opened with the night sky. He was fascinated by the stars and the magnitude of the astronomical universe. Taking my hand and pointing to the stars, he taught me their names. Sometimes, the story of trains carrying stars would follow…”The number of stars in the universe is so great that if each one was represented by a grain of sand”…and his story would go on to fill a whole page, describing a complex formulaic mathematical calculation representing the immensity, in a simple form for a child to grasp.
Attesting to the gift of genetics, his love of learning and teaching by storytelling has been passed down the line.
When a human reaches stardom from dedicating their lives to their passion and craft, we call them a “star”. These “stars” have names that we remember because we admire them and follow their lives. However, “rising stars” exist everywhere, and we may not even know their names.
Everyone has gifts to share. We were all born “stars”. Perhaps, those who shine brightest are those that quickly recognize their limitless potential in this life. Is it possible that the expression, “let your light shine”, was inspired by the stars as they light up the heavens?
My children have been my students and audience for many years. I have lived believing my job was to teach them what I know best. And yet, they continue to teach me with thought-provoking questions and wise statements as they grow into adulthood. I recall both my daughter and son emphatically reminding me, “It’s not about you, Mom.” and my other daughter’s curious, yet pointed, question, “Why did you have children, Mom?”
Last week as I continued to stir the word soup, a savory realization was being prepared. More time was necessary to blend the flavors. A pinch of grace was needed.
Stepping back from the mission to deliver blog posts as scheduled, based only on what I know best, checking the box of self-imposed expectations, I discovered I was unknowingly about to serve my guests fast food, and my heart wasn’t completely in it.
The real learning had to take place first, a higher level of sustenance provided from a source outside of myself.
So the question, “who is the teacher?”, remains yours to answer.
For me, in this moment of time, it is apparent I can still learn from modeling the children.
-Erika K Rothwell
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