Friday, December 14, 2012

There Is Nothing Wrong With You

A certain extremely kind person with whom I interact on a regular basis has said to me on more than one occasion: "There is nothing wrong with you."

The first time anyone told me this, I was surprised, shocked even. Neither that first person nor my current friend would deny that I have a missing tooth, a semi-bad back, or a tendency to be slightly flaky at times. But the basic idea-- which I am finally getting down, perhaps-- is that at the very most basic level, I am still a valuable person because I am a person.

I do know this: I think that there is nothing wrong with my students. I mean, yes, various of them smoke, get in fights, sleep with people they really shouldn't, and even mouth off to me in class; but at the most basic level, they are people whom I am duty bound, as their teacher, to love. The fact that (magnificently, and I can't tell you how I do it) I can see this, and that I actually pull it off at least 98% of the time, is definitely a major factor in what makes me a good teacher. I do know that having many stories in my head of Truly Good Teachers who loved their students properly has helped me with this, but to what extent I am not completely sure.

I have known for a while that if only I could transfer that skill-- of loving properly-- from my students to other humans, my life would be both different and better, but I have been somewhat consternated as to how to bring this about. Today, however, armed with my new insight, I tried it out during a tense conversation; I thought to myself, "There is nothing wrong with you," directing it at my interlocutor. It helped! And I realized: when I am angry (improperly) at another, what I am really thinking to myself about them is that there is something wrong with them, and that unless they fix it, I have a right to treat them badly. This is never true, because no one deserves to be treated badly (though it is true that some people end up not liking how I treat them, even when I try my best to not treat them badly, and I just can't fret too much about that).

Paths to kindness are always a happy find.

1 comment:

N said...

This is beautiful! - and I love the picture.