• Jared

Mentoring

Updated: Nov 29, 2018

finding what works: what is and what isn't mentoring



 


I was sitting with Larry, a 70 year old man bald as an unsheathed acorn but for the white grey beard framing an unceasing smile. The man is an artist with presence. He uses that smile and his earnest watery gaze to pierce any ordinary moment with his brand of loving. For example, we went to Brew Pub in town and as our server greeted us, Larry greeted him right back, fully. Even listened patiently and kindly as this server waxed philosophical to Larry. Perhaps the man wanted to show that he knew some things. I was annoyed. But not Larry. He looked at the man as if her were saying just the right things. He seemed to hold him in his preciousness. He seemed to be looking behind the words to the man. By the end of our meal this man was bearing a lot about his life, maybe even teared up at one point. There was a genuine exchange of kindness and authenticity. As I saw it, Larry met this server's need to be seen. It was beautiful and genuinely kind, and it taught both me and the server. But Larry wasn't trying to do that, he was being himself.


When we get together to talk we'll talk about everything. We'll start real broad but narrow it down so quick. Right into the places we'd rather not go. Maybe that's why I like talking to him so much. But that smile of his will fall like a shooting star down onto the dark earth when we get to those places of suffering. It's not commiserating we're doing, it's acknowledging the damned immensity of the dark. And it turns this old man's smile right down. Drops us both. Drops me into the sober reality that even this man, an elder a mentor to me, someone I admire, look up to, this wise old man can only shake his head at the trouble that comes with this living. The trouble that shows its teeth in all the calamity that our culture and ecology as well as on the inner planes, the shadow lands within. That scares me because he's wise and older. I like to think that my mentors are like superheroes that will offer me the brilliant glimpse into the way out. That there's this grand hope I can cling to at the end. But watching Larry's body as we talk of the way today's suffering is, it's like he's bearing a blow from the wind, the dead, the spirits. Air leaves his lungs.


I say this because Larry is a practiced man. He has a deep prayer and meditation practice and he's into it. He's committed. So how come he is rattled so much by his trouble? How come he doesn't have it all together? It scares me as I sit there with him watching him struggle. It scares me because I want my elders to have it all together.


Now this is prime mentoring to me. He mentors me by being himself and letting me see it. He doesn't play a role or put himself arbitrarily above me, he speaks what's true and


It leaves me with myself. Being with him, leaves me to myself more clearly than before. That's why I like it. It also helps me stop putting the responsibility of my life on people I think are wiser than me.


I like being around Larry. He'll pass through town from time to time and call me. I feel blessed whenever he does, like I'm special. Larry is a mentor to me, but Larry doesn't mentor me he just is himself with me. Choosing to spend time with me, which is the only effort involved. And in today's world, I have to feel honored that he has chosen to do this.





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