I confess and celebrate that the only thing I’ve done longer than teach is to learn. And not very far along it became clear that teaching is learning with others by living into the questions that experience opens.
It was in my second year of teaching—high school, then—that this couplet of e.e. cummings appeared in my path:
I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.
I’ve tossed this couplet like a hieroglyph before a class, countless times, and just as often I’ve recited it to myself when puzzled at what to do next.
For in its construction is a telescoped wisdom, very Tao-like, that helps me re-understand our way in the world and how to find our talents of being:
I’d rather learn… than teach…
I’d rather learn from one… than teach ten thousand…
And perhaps most important of all: I’d rather learn how to… than teach how not to…
In my journey, I’ve been worn like a stone shaped by an unending river—from young poet to young teacher to my tumble through cancer to my life as a listener and witness of the mystery that lives below all names.
And this chunk of truth continues to be my teacher. It speaks profoundly about the deepest kind of learning and reminds me that life is a journey from no to yes, and that the classroom appears wherever we dare to imagine this life as a transformative question that we somehow awaken into together.
how do give up your power? and who do you seek to find your path? whose heart do you know best?
inquiry for today~ remember those times when you found your answers, made promises, laughed at mistakes and heard a new calling…..where did they come from?
You do not need a teacher to walk the spiritual path, but you’ll get farther along in a more efficient way with one. A good teacher steeped in a wise and well-developed tradition of personal growth and spiritual transcendence is a blessing. ~Elizabeth Lesser