Not All Teachers Are Great Teachers...But All Teachers Can Teach You Great Things
Rich Roll is one of my favorite pod-casters to watch and this interview with Rabbi Mordecai Finley is particularly insightful. I won't recap the whole podcast and though it is long, I hope you watch it in its entirety. I took away much from this interview but one thing that struck me was early in the interview when Rabbi Finley was speaking about his luck in encountering great teachers very early in his life. At a young age, mid-teens, be began encountering wise, insightful individuals who wanted to offer him guidance in his interest in pursuing a deep understanding of the meaning and mystery of life.
When I heard him say this, my first thought was,
"Well, that's not the sort of teacher I got with an alcoholic husband."
No, no it's not at all.
The teacher you get in an alcoholic husband is a crappy, mean, verbally abusive, toxic scholar who will shatter your heart and destroy your soul. There are teachers who teach through nurturing and with patience and there are teachers who throw you in the ocean and tell you,
With an anvil tied to your ankle.
That's the teacher of an alcoholic husband.
I've spent 20 years living this hell and thinking, believing that my focus needed to be on getting away from him. Managing life with him. Not reacting to him. Dealing with the effects of him. I had been so concerned with untying the anvil that I forgot first and foremost, I needed to swim.
It's not easy or even intuitive to take your focus OFF what is pulling you down and turn it toward the shore. After all, it'd be so much easier to swim without the damn anvil on your leg.
And it'd be so much easier to live my best life, be the best version of the Me I came to be without an alcoholic husband dragging me down. But the fact is, you have to do the work to change your life before you can change or escape the thing that is destroying your life.
Have you ever heard someone say (or utter these words yourself):
"I'm too out of shape to go to the gym."
We all know how absurd that sounds but we also know exactly what someone means when they say this. There is this tendency among human beings to want to fix what needs to be fixed before they fix the ramifications of said thing. Being married to an alcoholic has taught me (finally) that it cannot matter what is dragging you down, holding you back or standing in your way. Whatever force outside you that is the problem is not where you should or even can direct your focus if you hope to create the life of your dreams. All great teachers know this. Ralph Waldo Emerson said,
"What lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you."
Epictetus said (thousands of years ago),
"It's not what happens to you but how you react to what happens that will determine your destiny."
Any therapist worth her weight in psychoanalysis will tell you, in one way or another,
"You can't control another person. You can only control how you respond."
So this lesson has been out there all along for me to learn. And it would have been so much more enjoyable to have a great teacher teach me this great truth.
But still, though an alcoholic husband is hardly a great teacher, he still taught me this great thing.
And maybe, just maybe, as much as it may hurt and suck and not be our first choice, we get the teacher we are meant to get in order to lead us to living our fullest lives.