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One of the greatest moments of humility and grace is realising when you are not the perfect fit for a student.
As I continue grow into myself and my teaching, I see more examples of this within the classes I teach. The students that are angular and pokey around me, that value and respect my teaching, and me as a person, but I will never be their best champion, or their perfect mentor.
The younger version of me would have worked with pig-headed determination to flex and contort myself into the perfect fit. What did I need to be? Harder, warmer, softer? More dictatorial? Colder? I tried to bend in ways that I never should have. And in doing so, was being dishonest to myself and doing my students a disservice.
Now, in simple grace and confidence, I can identify students for whom I’m not a perfect fit, and I can joyfully and wholeheartedly direct them to other staff members and mentors who might inspire them more fully than I am able. I encourage them to listen and look closely around them for kindred spirits, people who are older and wiser than them who have the unique combination of experiences and talents which resonate with them.
I ask them to be open and engaged with me, and that I will always love and teach them with my greatest self, and to the best of my ability. But in my heart of hearts, I say silently to them:
I am not so vain as to think I can be everything to everyone. I am not the perfect fit for you. I will teach you, care for you, encourage you, guide you, and support you, but you need to find that adult or mentor who IS someone you completely aspire to be like, even in part, and connect with them. You need to have a champion, and a North Star, and it’s not me.
So, look hard, and look well. Find someone who resonates with you, who makes your spirit catch alight, and learn.
This is such a gift of courage, humility, grace, and love.
To know that I have the courage and grace to set certain students free, so that I can love them more.
Creativity and ego cannot go together…
…if you free yourself from the comparing and jealous mind
your creativity opens up endlessly.
Just as water springs forth from a fountain, so does creativity.
You must not be your own obstacle.
I am an unashamed plane fanatic.
I know nothing about cars, and have zero interest in anything else technological, except that it will function the way I need. I have the most basic understanding of how to fix things. I am average in all things IT. And yet, for some inexplicable reason, I love planes.
I live near an airport. With my music teacher’s ears, I can tell from anywhere in the house what sort of plane is flying overhead; regional, domestic, or international. And if it’s an international flight, there is just enough time for me to drop whatever I am doing, fly out the door, and catch the magnificent underbelly of the plane soaring over my home, arms-outstretched, almost able to be sucked up the the force of it.
So when a plane was safely landed in the Hudson River on January 15th 2009, I knew that this was extraordinary. As has been said so many times over, and as I had learned through my incidental “plane-reading”, people don’t survive water landings. But when the extraordinary-ness of the event had settled, there was something far more extraordinary that captured my attention, and that was the very person of Captain Chesley Sullenberger.
What an amazing man of discipline, courage, and purpose. His life has not been perfect; he’s faced as much adversity and hardship as anybody else, yet he carries himself with quiet grace and dignity. His words are governed by humility and authority, both, and when he speaks, you want to listen. Nothing he does is extravagant, and the way he has handled the tidal wave of attention from the rest of the world whilst quietly threading together the lives of his wife and children has been gracious, and tiring, and adaptive.
What is most extraordinary to me is that he didn’t ask for any of this, and yet he has said to the media that this is something he adapted to, and has learned to do so for the greater good. I don’t know that I would have had that courage! I would have been battening down the doors and hiding in full introvert mode, and unable to meet the needs and requests of so many families, who needed to express their gratitude. He assumed this role, one that takes its toll on himself and his family, for the good of the public, for the education of others in the aviation world, and the wider community.
He takes time to examine both sides of a story, even if he has strong opinions on his part. He is constantly curious about, humbled, and invigorated by his craft – flying – and has been so since age 5. How many people know that sense of dedication and service? How many people can claim that sort of discipline, purpose, and complete love of learning in life? His love for his wife and daughters is quiet and absolute, there is no fanfare. He is not a doormat, his opinions are formed from a basis of knowledge gleaned from constant learning and refinement of his understanding of events, situations, and technologies. His words have so much quiet essence and power.
And while this event happen 9 years ago, and I have no connection whatsoever except in my love of planes, I am absolutely and completely inspired. The quiet dedication and purpose that goes against everything that is so flamboyant and loud in our world. That simple words and intelligence can cut through as powerfully as anything raucous. That this life in the spotlight is one that thousands of people covet, and Sully would give anything NOT to be living. And yet he has taken responsibility for his new-chosen role.
And I think to myself, would I have the courage?
Am I living every corner of my life, with courage and grit, using every talent and opportunity presented to me, even if I am afraid and do not like the hand I have been dealt?
It’s easy to live your life when it’s to your own parameters. Anyone can do that. But to walk with grace when you have a situation that you don’t want, and to live it with courage and give what you have been called to give, even if it is hard and takes it out of you?
Oh, I hope that I have the courage to do that.
Thank you for your example of grace and courage, Sully.
Yesterday morning, I’d never heard of these two wonderful musicians. But this video popped up on my Facebook newsfeed and made me grin + light up in a way far more than their playful duo recording attempt was ever intended.
Seth Allyn Morris and Ben Smolen are both professional musicians with impressive portfolios, at the start of their careers, having established themselves as outstanding flautists in their own right. Yet in this recording, they put their professional selves on the shelf, and are just totally engaged in being playful…”I wonder if we could do this?!”
The humility + playfulness in their banter belies the obvious hard work + grit both have shown to get to their respective points in their careers. There’s no elitism, they are relying upon each other, and having a great time…being silly…in a creative, intellectual, and playful manner.
They’re not in their own little glasshouses, they are not precious or overprotective with their talents…they’re just having fun.
And that fun says so much about how they treat their skills, talents, and careers.
I’m showing this clip to my Year 12s as an example of musical excellence in professional performing, with these two young professionals at the beginning of their careers, but more importantly, as an example of life-learning + character. It’s so wonderful to find young, outstanding musicians, still being…normal, nerdy, curious, playful people.
That’s what I want for my students + myself. The complete package…with no frills, not attitude, no sass, no elitism…just a total respect and care for themselves + their talents.
And a little bit of nerdy.