This article is a confession to my gurus. Well, maybe more of an apology. Or a humble request for forgiveness. Okay, it’s a mixture of all three. Sometimes I can be an asshole. More so when I was younger and before life kicked my sorry brown ass into submission. People say they love writers who have had the life beaten out of them. That’ll be my remaining solace in this whole matter: I’m only likable after bruises on the side of the face and a gash near the hairline.
I was eight years old when I got into my first major argument with a teacher. I could’ve been seven, but I was young. In elementary school. What was the argument about? Or what passion could be evoked in an eight year old child that would set him off? It wasn’t the obvious, like video games, food, or toys. It was spiders. Yup, the whole argument was about spiders. My stance was that spiders were evil. Yes, evil. My teacher kindly tried to enlighten me about the role of spiders in the cosmos. But I wouldn’t hear it! “No! Spiders are evil!” I told her. And thus began my attack on gurus.
I’m a peace loving person, despite what we’ve seen so far from my eight-year-old self’s stance on spiders (and, interestingly enough, my childhood nickname was Spider and family on my Kiowa side still call me Spider).
But when it came to teachers I’ve always had an odd and subtle defiance. But before we get too far into this business, you’ll want to know what triggered me to write this article. I had an email exchange with someone who rightly pointed that I needed to make things right, that I had a history, going back lifetimes, where I insulted teachers and this was hurting my ability to grow as a person. There was nothing I could say in return. She was right. She hit the proverbial nail on the head, leaving me speechless.
This has extended into my adulthood and it runs so subconsciously that I recently inserted an attack on a teacher in a recent article: From Tommy Orange to the Institute of American Indian Arts: Plains Tribes Battle for “Powwow” Terminology in Contemporary America. What’s wrong with me? I didn’t name any names and wouldn’t anyway, but to see this play out as recently as last week is astonishing.
“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” — Robert Frost
Certainly, while I was at the Institute of American Indian Arts I was a pain in the ass. My professors are nice to me about it all. I was young and they’re forgiving (thankfully). But this affected me to such a degree that this morning I started emailing all my old instructors. One after the other. I told them how much I appreciated their guidance and apologized for being an idiot. Time is the best teacher of all, and time says to appreciate people while they’re in front of me. But yes, I emailed numerous teachers this morning. All but one has emailed back so far, and each were appreciative that I reached out (some I hadn’t spoken to in nearly a decade).
“Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.” — Colleen Wilcox
I wish I could find all the teachers I transgressed (and yes it was that many). If push comes to shove, I will. But I figured at minimum I should contact the ones I still had access to and then write this article. Let’s call it a start. No one is perfect, certainly, and likely my missteps may have not been to a severe degree, but ultimately that’s not up to me to decide. I transgressed and I should apologize. Simple, straightforward, and honest. I know it’s not okay (no matter how I justified the actions). Teachers put their wisdom on the line when they offer guidance to their students. So I shouldn’t have been so callous.