Perhaps the better title would be “in praise of the teacher” because who is the student without our teachers?
We can all name people that have impacted our lives in a profound and lasting way; people who’ve shown up in our lives, expected and unexpected to change the way we think about ourselves, our capabilities and our purpose.
I think about Stella Jacobi, my 6th grade teacher, a diminutive force of nature who inspired me to achieve more than I’d previously conceived; Laraine Sheehan Gordon, my high school English teacher whose exacting eye and commitment to excellence pushed me to understand the immense power of words; and Elaine Fischer, an 89-pound black haired whirl of energy who believed I could lead exercise classes despite the fact I totally bombed my audition.
I was terrified of Elaine, but her belief in me changed the course of my life.
There were other teachers, too- the ones we don’t immediately thank for their instruction- bad boyfriends and bosses and backstabbing acquaintances. Perhaps their lessons are the most important because they wound the most. In retrospect, I’m the most grateful to the difficult people in my life because they challenged me to summon strength, resilience and compassion I didn’t know I possessed.
Having your heart broken also allows you to be more open; for healing and taking personal responsibility and being able to love again.
Being broken doesn’t mean being crippled- it does mean being vulnerable and it’s taken me a long time to see the courage in that.
If we are aware and open, our opportunities for learning abound daily.
A chance meeting at a networking event, the impetus to write a favorite author, accepting a random invitation to lunch, agreeing to hang upside down in a piece of fabric; life-changing opportunities are literally available in every moment of every day- if we are open to them. That’s where we must celebrate the learner.
Learning requires presence, curiosity, listening, and enthusiasm. Apathy, indifference, and arrogance are the enemy of learning because we already know it all.
The best teacher I ever had was my Dad, Ehret Oscar Ramey. He was a gentleman, a doctor, a husband, and a man of Faith.
He was funny and kind and the worst joke-teller in the world. He taught me how a woman deserved to be treated, and ready to remind me should I temporarily forget.
He held me close when I was weak and loved me when I behaved like an ass. He never scolded, never acted disappointed, never let me feel sorry for who I was. His love was unconditional- as bright, expansive and as natural as the morning sun.
My Father taught me a simple and important lesson: the power of our belief in another person’s worth and well-being. As humans, there is nothing more we crave and nothing more important we can share.
Thank you, Dad, for believing in me. Thank you for teaching me to be open to life and ready to learn. I really miss you, but I feel you every day- in every sunrise, every laugh, every soft listening moment, you are with me.