Alright. I seem to have a disproportionate number of “Evening Ambrosia” titles stacked against me thus far (and I have only had this blog for less than a week!) – hence the pathetic excuse for the title. Oh well. I guess it’s the content that matters the most (not to mention the fact that life has been spiralling out of control lately). So this afternoon I had a chance to meet up with a dear friend for an afternoon of catching up. I must say something about mentors. Mentors, according to an online dictionary source (Dictionary.com) are “wise and entrusted counsellors or teachers”. I also like this more classical definition (same source) – “a loyal advisor of Odysseus entrusted with the care and education of Telemachus.” I’d like to think that my friend isn’t that ancient. He is definitely young at heart, but he certainly is not considered “young” by modern definitions.
This person has had a tremendous personal and educational influence on my life and he has seen me arise from very humble beginnings. Like most mentors, this individual provided me with a proverbial “leg up” so I might grasp a strong foothold on the stone foundation that was to become my life’s mountain. He saw through my insecurities, deficits and weaknesses to see the gem hidden within (a scruffy chunk of aquamarine, but a semi-precious stone nonetheless!). Sensing my thirst for knowledge and achievement, he was one of the most important architects and supporters of my life. Many academics and professionals can relate to what I am describing here. The uninitiated individual might construe this type of relationship as a stifled romantic interlude (if the mentorship was between a male and female). In some cases, I imagine that some of these relationships have taken these complicated twists and turns (thankfully, mine did not, since this would have proven rather disconcerting). True mentorships see beyond the obvious physical realm into the potential world of self-less opportunity. I imagine that once a mentor has helped their protege succeed, that act, in itself aspires some sense of satisfaction. I imagine that even more enjoyment is attained when the student excels within their chosen field (“achieving within” and “contributing to” their profession). Regardless of the potential egotism, much can be accomplished through mentorships.
Now that I am getting older and a tad bit more established in my field, I find myself looking for the same opportunities to mentor individuals. I derive much satisfaction if I can be of service to someone. I readily enjoy helping others discover my profession and I particularly enjoy writing character and recommendation letters for those hard-working individuals that deserve a pat-on-the-back or “leg-up”. I believe that we have a responsibility for one another. I think we can directly affect other’s lives simply by our words and our actions. We have that capability both professionally and personally. I think the Hua-Yen Buddhists liken this concept to Indra. Indra refers to the concept of interconnectedness and relatedness that links all individuals together within our Universe, our Cosmos. The web or net of Indra is essentially “composed” of many interlinking jewels. We (people) are these jewels sparkling and shining within this web. Not only do we shine and reflect our own brilliance, we reflect the shine and glitter of all the other jewels surrounding us. The way I like to think of this concept is this. You wake up in a fantastic mood. The sun is shining, you are happy and you have a giant smile on your face. You take your dog for a walk. A person driving by sees you smiling – and they smile because they see that you are happy. That person takes their good mood along with them for the day and so on…. It also works if you have a bad start to the day too! Stub your toe, spill coffee on the rug, your late for work and so on (ever notice how things happen in threes? not a coincidence).
Anyways, I guess I have digressed somewhat. Mentors, friends, family. We all have a responsibility to each other and ourselves. I have learned the importance of social responsibility (albeit rather painfully) not that long ago. I am still learning and I want to be more accountable (and I think true wisdom is admitting that you know nothing anyways…but I don’t consider myself a guru). I used to think the task of self-inventory was daunting. Impossible even. How can you be so many things for so many people and stay true to yourself? Simple. Be true to yourself first and everything else will follow. It really isn’t that complicated (why do we love to complicate things? we need more compassion for ourselves). Listen to that nagging voice at the back of your mind (within reason) – if it says, “you are good enough and you need to do X,” then analyze the situation carefully and consider the possibility. If you are courageous enough – act. Of course I am speaking of acts of kindness and movements to create a better self/world etc. (I’m not talking about kicking the Chihuahua down the street because he keeps you up at night!). Oh. The other thing I need to start getting better at is telling (not just showing) others how much I appreciate them. My mentor friend has been a very important influence in my life and I did get the opportunity to share these feelings with him. Why wait for a tragedy to express yourself to the people that matter in your life? Life is too short. Get out there and live!
ps. My apologies if I sounded “preach-y” today – I just had to get a few things off my chest.