Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Finding Your Perfect Mentor, Part II

The last post on this subject, finding that perfect mentor, indicated that there is no guru out there waiting on your porch, ready to give you solutions. But, guidance is out there for you, sometimes you just need to recognize your mentor in the disguise of a friend, a teacher, an acquaintance, a perfect stranger, your own feelings, or even a book....or maybe even a blog post. Before you can use your mentor's wisdom, you need to get your question(s) straight.

I have heard an expression to the effect that when you are ready to learn something, the teacher appears. I read recently a quote, "The next message you need, is always right where you are," by Ram Das. I do not know who Ram Das is, but I think s/he is on to something. Get your question clear, and the answer appears.

Here's a perfect example of a small solution that showed up, unexpectedly, in response to a rather trivial question. About a month ago, I went to Savannah to make a presentation on Chavez at an academic conference. I really wanted to stay with my cousin, to save money on hotel, but I hadn't seen this cousin in 10 years, nor were we ever what you would call close. However, he did invite me to stay with him, and I accepted his invitation.

The morning of the day before my departure, he sent me an email asking me if I wanted to go with them to church that evening of the day I was to arrive. I can assure you that going to church with them that evening was NOT something I wanted to do, normally, but I didn't answer right away in the expectation of receiving some direction on this small question. Part of the reason I was going to this conference, like all conferences, is to meet people, and I knew very few people who were going to this one. I was thinking that maybe I should just hang out that evening at the conference, and maybe I would run into someone I should talk to.

That afternoon, my dad called, as he does from time to time. He asked me about my plans for the conference and the last thing he said to me during this brief conversation was this: "I'm going to give you some fatherly advice. I think you need to make friends with Veronica." My father is a man of few words, and does not give advice very often. Veronica is my cousin's wife. I had met her twice over the past 20 years, maybe we had spent a total of two minutes together, or maybe less.

So, there was my answer. I emailed Michael that I would love to attend the church dinner and program. As it turned out, neither Michael nor I went to church that evening. The battery in my car died the next day in Savannah and he helped me get it replaced and he and I had the most delightful, and delightfully unexpected dinner together that evening. I don't think that would have happened if I had not made plans to be with them that evening.

Answers can come from unexpected, and expected sources. Keep an eye out, and an ear open to find them.

Tomorrow is the last day to email contest submissions to mixonian@gmail.com. You might win $50.