Kinds of Teachers
One of the first contemporary Canadian poets whose work I fell in love with was Anne Michaels. She has a new book out right now (I'm on the holds list for it at the library), titled All We Saw. She came to mind recently, though, when I was trying and failing to remember some lines for a friend from an earlier book, The Weight of Oranges.
“There are three kinds of teachers, you said.
One who teaches by making you afraid,
one who makes you angry.
The third makes you love him.”
And yet the world offers up so many kinds of teachers. I'm fond of the quotation by Pema Chödrön where she says, “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
Life is a good teacher, too. She says: “Feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.”
Even more difficult to think about is the fact that as Pema says, “Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”
Lately though, I have to say, I've come across some teachers, and I'm pretty sure I've already learned what they have to teach. I swear I have. In abundance. The universe, apparently, begs to differ.
One last rather poetic thought about teaching:
“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry