Sunday, January 08, 2006


She's not really my student. She is a friend who learns something from me formally while I learn much from her less formally. She introduced me to her student over the weekend, but he's not really a student either- he's a young friend who is drawn to her as a source of wisdom and experience. So I met my unstudent's unstudent. That's very cool.

There's a certain age where young people (males in my experience, but that's what I've always been) seek a teacher, a mentor. Someone older and wiser and farther down the path they envision for themselves, someone who knows the secrets and the mysteries and the magic. Largely I skipped that, through luck or analytical scepticism or a loner personality or the fact that the earliest closest possibilities I remember were failures on other levels, I spent very little time with self-proclaimed gurus and masters and a lot in the high desert listening to coyotes.

I have met a lot of 'masters', and most were very charismatic and coldly predatory. I remember in particular one called Sylver who was a pure sexual predator behind his smile and words of free love, surrounding himself with women a third his age who he had convinced that it was impossible to lie in the nude and clothes were necessary for dishonesty. To maintain the sterling (sylver) honesty of his house, clothes were not worn there.

So there is conflict here and danger in the quest for a mentor when being a mentor is so easy to fake and so profitable.

The kid's lucky to have her as a mentor. He won't be exploited, he will learn and she won't feed him bullshit to keep him on the string. She won't become addicted to having someone look up to her and her goal is to bring him along the path as far as she has come and farther. A true teacher desires to be outdone by their students. The 'masters' and 'gurus' and 'sokes' thrive on a steady diet of inferiors and keep their students... students.

For a day, I was a mentor's mentor. It was fun and strange and silly. The kid is young and smart and sincere. He wants answers and he is doing the right thing, putting himself in the company of people who live like they have them. But it's hard, because like everyone else, he asks a question and wants an answer... and almost every time the answer is "That's not a real question."

What he sees as mastery he thinks of as having the right stuff, having more answers and insights. It's almost exactly the opposite- it's about not having the wrong stuff in your head or your life; about having fewer questions that are more real; clear sight.

So much of the world is attributed. People create panic and drama. They decide that things are important when they are only interesting. People don't spontaneously combust when they miss a deadline. Who wins the superbowl doesn't affect anything real. If you don't watch television you lose no more than the opportunity to talk about imaginary people with your friends. It's a loss, but not a real loss.

Okay, I'm beating a dead horse.

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