Another daily practice I have commenced during this time to keep me grounded is to, among other things, read a poem a day. This morning I randomly selected Mary Oliver reading her well-known poem Wild Geese. It made me tear up. I empathized with everyone in this world to whom this poem resonates.
Since I am locked up at home most days with nowhere to really go, I break up the monotony by walking around my neighborhood. Recently I came across a newcomer: the yellow chicken car. I don’t know who it belongs to, and I don’t know how long it will be here, and I am utterly intrigued by the mind that would take an Oldsmobile from the 1960s, paint it brilliant yellow, and put a giant fiberglass chicken head on the top and tail feathers on the back. That is a genius I would like to know. My guess is that the driver is a nomad and will vanish with this creation as mysteriously as he or she arrived.
When I think of a mentor, I think of Yoda. You know, he’s the shriveled gnome-like creature who tried to teach Luke Skywalker the ways of the Force. More realistically, mentors are often teachers, relatives, or friends who see something teachable in a person and reach out to lead that person on a path of excellence in a specific skill, talent or knowledge.
I wish I could say that there was one such person in my life: that one special person who took me under wing to teach me that one…thing. The fact is that there were many: Those teachers who taught me to read and write and then later to critically think and learn the tools of research. There were those spiritual teachers who taught me to walk in a just and upright way. There are the people who are concerned with my physical and emotional health. Thank God for them. There were those practical teachers who taught me how to use a computer, cook a meal, and take command of an office. Then there are the men and women with whom I drum.
My mentors are not limited to those I know. There are all those teachers and mentors from history’s pages. I never understood why I had to study the Greek philosophers while a college student. Now I do. I love to read biographies. Learning how a notable person navigated life has given me insight in to how I conduct my own. Hundreds of writers, artists, and musicians, both alive and not, have influenced my creative expressions.
For a polymath, one mentor would never have been enough.
One of my favorite writers is Sue Monk Kidd. (See my post on The Secret Life of Bees) She gives some wonderful insights on the writing process in this lecture. If you are a writer and have an hour, I highly recommend that you view this.