Teaching an old dog new tricks

June 26, 2007

Of the nearly dozen people in my class, most are twenty somethings who are in the same program. Their easy camaraderie comes from sharing the ups and downs of their program. They support and challenge each other and are in this together – come hell or high water.

Being more than twice their age, my experiences and theirs are filtered through different lenses. I go home to relative comfort, social and physical security, a family that loves me and supports me and can pick up the slack if I need to study. I am not wracked with questions of will I ever marry, have children, get a job, be successful, have a house? I am living those answers. Yet our commonality emerges as we face challenges in this class. As do our differences.

They have youth, and eagerness, excitement and flexibility. They are used to being students, shutting up and listening, pleasing the authority figure in the room. In their years of studying, they have a keen sense of when to disclose and when to turn invisible. For the most part, they avoid opinions or positions that challenge or are too different. They have social skills and a fluidity that I envy.

I have age and certainty, experience and a less fluid personality. I am used to being the facilitator, mom, leader, manager. I rarely have to shut up and listen and it has been a long time since I did anything to please someone else that did not in some way also serve my greater good. Invisibility doesn’t interest me. I want to engage. The world is stepping in to test the calm fluidity of my body and in that experience of fluidity – I am seeing them mirror those possibilities to me.

Being far from home is hard, but you know,
at least we are exiled together.
When you open your eyes to the world

you are on your own for
the first time. No one is
even interested in saving you now

and the world steps in
to test the calm fluidity of your body
from moment to moment

as if it believed you could join
its vibrant dance
of fire and calmness and final stillness.

~~~David Whyte – excerpt from Revelation must be terrible

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