Student or disciple? I moved to Boulder as a student, eager to learn TH's healing system, Harmonizing. But my status as a student was already tainted with discipleship. I didn't just want TH to teach me his tricks, I wanted him to save me, to make me enlightened. Once I finally did start making progress with love, long after I escaped TH's clutches, I discovered that's impossible. No one can save me; I can only save myself. Spiritual teachers are con artists; religions are bogus. All of them. Spiritual teachers don't want students, they want disciples. A good schoolteacher wants students to think for themselves and strives to give students tools to make their own way, leaving behind any reliance on the teacher. Spiritual teachers, not so much. They want disciples: subservient dupes they can manipulate to serve their often despicable whims. An unsavory lot.
Mom and Dad were my best teachers in childhood and among the best I ever encountered. My dad was a genius teacher, engaging and encouraging my natural curiosity about the world again and again. And again. Mom simply did what she did transparently: I was always welcome to jump in and participate if I wanted to. I learned to cook by helping mom out in the kitchen. Neither of them ever discouraged my explorations unless they had legitimate concerns about my safety. I didn't tell them about exploring that cave using a pop bottle of kerosene with a burning rag stuck in the top as a torch.
Learning and teaching dance. I started learning partner dance at Living Traditions in 1992. I'd recently turned forty, which is too late to start learning to dance if you want to get really good at it. Somewhere around four or five is probably the ideal age to start learning any kind of artistic skills. That way the skills can form me, becoming part of who I am. But at forty I still had good reserves of the physical and mental resources I needed for outer directed learning and study, so I did well. So well I ended up teaching dance to many receptive and enthusiastic students starting in 1999. I taught dance for eighteen years, then burnt out on it. It started with a feeling of dissatisfaction when I taught but soon progressed to deep misery before, during and after teaching. In the meantime I got sucked into tango. I began taking tango classes in 2010, age fifty-eight. Progress was slow because of my age. After eight years it started getting harder and harder to be in class, until attending even just a pre-dance drop-in class was sheer torture. I could no longer learn from an outside source like that, and trying to force that felt truly dreadful. I have reached the stage of life where I have to turn inward and learn from Leela, learn from my own body. I have to surrender to my own deep wisdom, my internal authority. That works beautifully for musicality but it doesn't help me with vocabulary and fine points of technique. I'm so grateful to all the amazing tangueras who are happy to dance with me anyway. I promise I'll do better next time.