Saturday, March 29, 2008

Give Thanks for Unexpected Teachers

Every now and then we get a reminder to give thanks for the teachers in our lives. For example, I appreciate Mrs. Murray for making American history come alive in high school. But, apart from our official school teachers, whom of course you want to thank profusely, there are other teachers to consider.

Right before we got our toy poodle puppy, a dear friend told me he would be a great teacher for our family. Hmmmmm.....puppies as teachers....something to think about. My friend was right, though. Prince, our power poodle, has taught us a thing or two, particularly about expectations in life.

For the most part, Prince gets what he expects in life. When he scratches at his water bowl, he gets water. When he stands outside the door, poised to enter, someone eventually opens the door for him. And when he is left alone, he knows that his family will come back home at some point, which presents the opportunity to celebrate by jumping high and barking profusely. And when there is a delay in his getting fed, or getting water, he may whine a bit, but he doesn't seem to get bitter about it. He doesn't deal in resentment.

Another vital source of unexpected teachers is the people who annoy us. Yep, them. While we enjoy the company of whose with whom we agree; we encourage them, and are encouraged by them; it's the super annoying folks who teach us more. They remind us that we have some interior work to do and they show us in what areas we need to focus our attention.

When someone gets on your nerves, ask yourself why. If it's because we're not getting his approval, there's an area ripe for attention. If it's because that person is trying to persuade us of something, why does that bother? It's basically a free world and you can choose your beliefs. In the case of a sour cashier, we can learn compassion. If it's a demanding student, one who expects payment (i.e. certain grades) for doing nothing, we learn....let's see, we learn serenity in the face of irritation. We learn to stay calm and not get sucked up in other people's expectations.

Teachers are wonder-filled people. The good news is that we all get to be a teacher at one point or another.