When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
And when the lesson is over, be it days or years, that’s usually when the scenery changes, for me.
I have a steady cast of characters in my life—my family and very close friends.
But I also have an ever-changing ensemble. I like to think of these people as my teachers.
I don’t mean teachers, as in formal education. I mean in the school of life. The school most of us souls come to endure so we can become more enlightened.
My teachers have been wise and stupid. Serious and comedic. I guess whatever I needed at the time; I learned from their wisdom and as well as their mistakes. Some were a model to emulate, others a cautionary tale.
They come in and out of my life to school me in specific lessons and then circumstances or deliberate action take them out of a starring role in my story.
For instance, in my twenties, I went to a doctor who combined Eastern and Western medicine. She could treat sinusitis with acupuncture and Chinese herbs as well as she could list out the major medical terms for every body part.
She had a long, thick mane of dark hair, an unconventional life and a flair for the dramatic. Think a huge room with nothing in it but a claw-foot tub and hundreds of candles for her nighttime bathing ritual. Think a wedding reception for 100 guests in a huge ballroom with nothing but one long table down the middle of the room. Oh, and the orchestra, of course. Suz was nothing if not dramatic.
For several years, she would tell me of her adventures as she treated me. Her house on Cape Cod, her frequent world travels, triathlons completed, men she took as lovers. We had become friends. Her annual Christmas party was as eclectic as one might expect and something I made sure never to miss.
She would counsel me on maintaining my independence in relationships, on which new restaurants were the best bet, on raising strong children.
I watched her move from a dicey part of town where cabs hesitated to make pickups, to a small bungalow in an up-and-coming ethnic area of the city, to a large, custom-built home in a trendy neighborhood.
I watched her daughter grow from a tiny wisp of a thing that was all dark eyes and hair to a beautiful young woman headed for Julliard.
As time passed, my doctor did not change all that much. But I did. I grew into myself. I matured. I figured out what did and did not work in my life. That’s what your twenties are for, right? At least for some of us.
And that, my friends, made all the difference.
The procession of men in and out of her life, the one that used to seem so glamorous, started to scream to me of too much drama.
After her marriage fell apart and her kids rebelled against her nomadic tendencies, we had an exchange in which the change in our relationship really hit me. She went after much younger men, boasting of her conquests and how she still had “it.” And all I could think of was—what the hell is “it” compared to a solid marriage and kids who feel you are their rock no matter what? If “it” is just a body in great shape, not much. My version of “it” was so much more—honesty, wisdom, kindness, a sense of humor.
I did not judge. Or I tried not to judge. But I realized what I had perceived many moons before as glamorous and independent was also restless and sometimes thoughtless. Full of ego, not wisdom.
Life was giving me the gift of seeing how far I had come. Of clarifying my values, what I wanted. It didn’t have to be what she or anyone else wanted, but I realized the lens through which I viewed things had changed without my noticing.
Similar bits have happened in the years since. The friend who seemed so bubbly and funny, the one who helped me to remember I had a sense of humor, began to look like someone constantly needing to be the center of attention. And her jokes were often at the expense of someone else. The therapist who helped me through a tough time had no new insights to offer after I grew exponentially from that tough time.
These changes in no way make one party superior to the other. They just mean that if you pay attention, life will tell you when it is time to move on. Another teacher awaits.
And you cannot hear a new teacher when you have an old one speaking in the other ear. It is cacophony.
As I’ve aged, I have learned not to idolize those who have something to teach me. I welcome them. I let them have the floor, to speak at will. And I trust that I am learning what it supposed to come at this moment.
Then I respect the moving on, if it is meant to happen.
22 Comments Add yours
I think people come into our lives for a reason. Some stay a long time and others come and go, leaving us changed forever.
That’s what the wise old saying states, at least:). But I agree, it’s always for a reason.
In this thoughtful, interesting post you wrote the best definition of cacophony I’ve ever read.
Thank you! Now here’s wishing no cacophony whatsoever:). But rather, just a clear, wise channel you can hear.
Yes, so very true. As they say, some friends are here for a season, others for a reason, and some for a lifetime. I’m always sad when friendships fade, but often later I can see why and realise that the lesson I learned from those people was – well, learned. And other “teachers” await. I’m at that point with what has been an important friendship for me for the past four or five years…I can feel that it might be time to loose the bonds a bit. It makes me sad, but we do move on and that’s usually a good thing. On another note, love the new look of your blog. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Kris.
It’s something I think happens to all of us for most of our lives. It’s funny, though, how only some of us notice it. Others seem to just bemoan the fact that a relationship has ended but are not sure of the greater purpose. Merry Christmas to you and yours and thank you for the kind words on my new blog look!
What a lovely post. I like the idea of people in our lives being our teachers for certain periods. And yes, for us to learn both good things and things to avoid. I guess we may be the teachers in others people’s lives too. This view makes it easier to let some friendships go, when they no longer enrich our lives. I’m so glad i found your blog 🙂
Oh yes, I agree that we are all teachers to each other–and the scenery shifts accordingly. Otherwise, the shifts just don’t seem to make sense, right? I’m glad you found my blog too! And I, yours:).
Wow – this is definitely food for thought.
Thank you. One of the nicest things you can say to a fellow writer is she or he made you think:).
“I have learned not to idolize those who have something to teach me.” I totally relate to that. I used to put people on pedestals and didn’t see that it was unfair to the relationship. We can’t learn all our lessons in one place.
Loved this K. Thank you.
You’re welcome:). Thanks for reading!
This was really profound. It’s interesting to see why and how perspectives change. A teacher always does appear…
Thank you:). Hoping the right teachers are appearing on cue for you!
Yes! This! People who we know who never seem to change are wonderful marker posts to gauge our progress against. I love your personal evolution.
Reminds me of a woman I befriended when our sons were both around six. I was still trying to find friends in my area with young kids, as I moved here only a few years before I had my son. We hit if off, being the same age, with some similar life experiences. Five years later I had grown quite a bit, had formed more local friendships. By that time, I started to do some work on myself and decided that her dysfunctionality that popped up from time to time (borderline personality disorder that fueled alcoholism), was something I no longer wanted to deal with or needed in my life (especially after exposing my innocent son to a drunken raging fight with her husband when my son was spending the night- he didn’t stay the night). I learned a lot from that relationship.
Love the new look of your blog!
Wow. That is some story. I can imagine a lot of learning took place. And when you can move on without the judgement, that’s when you know you’ve really gotten the lesson.
The end was actually very unemotional for me. I emailed her and she had issue with my praising her for finally getting counseling. Apparently, “she went off” according to her husband. Apparently, getting real is not on her agenda. And she dropped me flat. I never called her again. It was actually very easy to let her go. The two times we’ve literally bumped into each other in public, she’s been very cheery with a big hello and how have you been, as if nothing had ever transpired between us. Part of her personality disorder. I was as fakey fake as she was and we went our merry ways. *shudder*
Beautiful reflections Kay. I can see those teachers over the years in my own life and also how I have become my own teacher. There is always something to learn from those around us.
Ah, yes! Becoming your own teacher. That’s another change, right? I think it’s happened to me also but the lessons can be accelerated by the presence of others, I believe.
Wise lady. I will stop talking now….and get my tickets to the Maldives then.
Change is a sad thing, but the beauty it unfolds most certainly makes up for it Kay.
Mmm, I was going to shut up, wasn’t I? 😀
The Maldives! Lovely:). And your comments are always welcome . . .