A Little Instruction

It can seem sometimes when we’re teaching children – or founding religions, or publishing books on writing – that we who believe we know something would be happiest if we could just puppeteer the rest of unknowing population. Do this now, don’t do that then, pray here, show, don’t tell, stand up, sit down, other fork, inside voice, firm handshake. Oh, and also trust yourself. That’s very important too. Of course no one really wants to control anyone else. Even if we could it would be exhausting and unsatisfying because we’d have to spend all our time doing it to the exclusion of our own lives. Mostly we give this sort of advice and instruction because we love someone. What we love, however, is not this person’s smile, or their good grades, or their honesty, or their fine writing – what we love is something that remains mysteriously elusive, even within those people closest to us. What we love is that which we feel in the instant we stop trying to understand it. What we love is that which disappears the moment we try to name it.

And what we love is that toward which all our instructions are trying to point those we love. We hope those people we love will behave in such a way that reflects what we feel is their and our inherent perfection. We are hoping to guide those people we love toward that which is beyond our reach: their power choice.

Everyone must make these alone, each of these choices, though it can seem sometimes as if we are forever making our choices in accordance with someone else’s wishes. We aren’t, of course – but it does often feel that way. Sooner or later, however, we will find ourselves alone. Sooner or later our parents or our husband or wife or teacher or rabbi or editor will not be there for us. We may be away at college or we may be on our deathbed or we may be at our desk before the blank page, and for some reason we will not be able to remember all this instruction. And we may feel frightened, and we may feel abandoned, and we may wonder how this happened to us, but in truth we asked for this moment, lived our life aiming for it. Now we will listen. Now teacher and student are one.

If you like the ideas and perspectives expressed here, feel free to contact me about individual and group conferencing.

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You can find Bill at: williamkenower.com

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