When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
This statement has several attributions, including Buddha Siddhartha Guatama Shakyamuni and Lao Tzu. As a teacher, I reminded myself of this saying every day. I might have shown up to teach, but students possessed different levels of readiness. I could not give up on them.
Today, I needed a teacher. Creating a new path takes courage, commitment, and encouragement.
My teacher appeared when I needed him most—Francesco Biz. He published a moving and deeply personal article, “How I Saved Myself from Ruin and Started Living an Incredible Life.”
The day before, I tried to write and struggled with several ideas that fell flat and lifeless. Sometimes, I can find inspiration by reading other writers. Novels, articles, poems can all spark my motivation and courage to dare to share my thoughts beyond my personal journal.
For several hours, I browsed articles from my favorite writers. The more I read, the more despondent I became. Not only did I not find inspiration, but I also began to see my creativity as lackluster and far inferior to my peers. I had fallen into the pit.
My dearest friend sent me a text reminder for Star Wars Day. Yoda spoke, “With you may the fourth be.” Then I remembered another wise saying from Yoda.
“No! Try not! Do or do not. There is no try.”
That was my problem. I kept trying and nothing I wrote compared to the brilliance I saw in other writers. A remarkable turn of a phrase or breathtaking descriptions spun around in my head. How do they think of putting the words together to create vivid and engaging images for the mind?
Feeling sorry for myself, I wrote back to my friend,
I’m sitting here trying to make words come out of my head. Head seems to say, “oh, methinks not today.”
Trying never works, only the doing. At that point, I decided to give myself permission to not write, but that choice only diverted the real issue I faced.
This morning, I realized I had broken from my routine of reading first every morning. Sometimes I read a few chapters of a novel, non-fiction, or writing craft books from Natalie Goldberg, Jack Hart, or Roy Peter Clark. I needed to go back to starting my day with inspiration and learning.
When I finished reading, I opened my journal with the last entry over a week ago. Time to sort through my thoughts and find my way back to my purpose. Why did I choose a writing path, and why now?
That’s when the student became ready, and my teacher for today appeared. Francesco could not have known how his story would intersect with where I found myself. He probably did not imagine that his words would carry so much weight and lift the heart and spirits of another writer.
I began a response to him, and in that reflection, I found what I needed to learn—again.
This is what I wrote
You reminded me why I wanted to write in the first place, “to inspire you to be and become your best.” When I lose sight of that most important “why,” writing becomes a chore and something I must do today because I said I would write for 30 straight days.
You shared you, in this article. the struggles, the change, the evolving into who you are. I highlighted several poignant passages, but the one that will follow me around today was this:
“When everything ends, and we keep ourselves stuck in the past, I know there’s something beautiful that we need to build.”
You will continue to grow and become…I am still growing and becoming. This is my goal until I take my last breath. To do anything else robs us of a life well-lived.
I have always been competitive and a perfectionist — a lethal combination. I can easily fall into the trap of focusing too much on comparing myself to others and measuring my work against theirs. When this happens, I become disappointed and discouraged. I am not as good and other people seem to do the work (no matter what that is) easily and successfully every time.
Essentially, I forget my why. I also forget that their experiences are not the same as mine. Their path is not my path.
What I encourage you to remember is that evolving is a continuous process. Learn from the past, but don’t try to drag it along with you into today or tomorrow. You have much to give the world, and I am excited to see your story unfold.
With gratitude, indeed
As writers, we teach, encourage, and give hope. But we never know when the student is ready or how our words can change the course of another life.
I will heed the words of Yoda, I will DO. As I evolve, grow, and become my best, I will continue to share my stories because a student waits for me to appear.