“There are few master teachers in life. … But there are many who can listen to life so well that they can hear the vastness in everything and in you. A teacher is someone who has learned to listen to life. Someone who has found a way to listen well. Any real teacher is only a finger pointing. In the end, we may find out more by not following our teachers but by following what our teachers follow for themselves. From a good teacher you may learn the secret of listening. You will never learn the secrets of life. You will have to listen for yourself.” Rachel Naomi Remen
We have all kinds of teachers in our lives. Not just the ones in school or college. Life teachers. Spiritual teachers. Unexpected teachers. You never know when you’ll find a teacher. Seems like one shows up when you least expect it, aren’t even looking for one. On occasion you may not even aware one is in front of you.
I’ve known this particular person for several years now. She’s much like you and I. Her alarm goes off in the morning but she might not have time to eat breakfast. She doesn’t want to be late for morning meeting. Her lunches tend to be pretty balanced and she likes to have conversations while she’s eating. She likes to talk about movies and actually she often points out little nuances in them that I never noticed.
During the day she methodically gets her work done. She has to figure out how to work with a variety of people. She has to speak up to be heard sometimes, to express her ideas. Sometimes she is insistent, sometimes she acquiesces. Like you and me she has to problem solve and every now and then she needs to ask someone for help. She doesn’t ever seem to be hung up on needing and asking for help.
She enjoys her leisure time. Hangs out with friends, runs, relaxes, tries new things. She loves to be outside. She loves books and movies. She has an eye for art. She is very kind. Effortlessly, she is thoughtful, generous, caring, concerned, curious, loving, helpful. She is the first one to reach out to someone.
Two things stand out about my friend when I think about her. Once or twice I’ve watched her just watching birds. She was outside one beautiful day and she whispered for her friends to come over….”Come here.” she softly called, “Look. It’s a bluebird.” Even though she whispers you can always hear her enthusiasm. The kind that makes you get excited too. She loves to share what she knows about birds. It’s just her thing, so to speak. One of her friends started walking closer to the bird. “Stop” she admonished softly…”Just look. Listen. You don’t need to get closer. Just be still.” Of course the bird flew away. “All you had to do was just watch.” she adds a little sadly.
On other occasions I have observed her during the busy hum of the day just sit and close her eyes. She just sits like that for a bit. Kind of like collecting herself. Sometimes it is noticeable the way her body begins to relax. Often I notice she is different afterwards…a little calmer, perhaps a little more focused. One time I asked her what she thought about when she sat quietly like that. She kinda smiles and laughs. “Nothing.” she says. “I don’t think about anything! It’s just quiet.”
When you might not expect it, along comes a teacher. She’s one of those people who I realize is teaching me. Her bird watching caught my attention becasue I love birds too. When I see her sitting quietly I can’t help but smile as I watch her body so still and serene, eyes closed, no thoughts twirling in her mind. She can seemingly find a moment, just a moment, any time during the day to be still and quiet.
She teaches me to just be still. To look, watch. And to listen. To find moments to close my eyes and let thoughts go.
“In the end, we may find out more by not following our teachers but by following what our teachers follow for themselves.”
Best part is, my friend is five!!!