There have been people in my life that have taught me very valuable lessons. Some have been here for my whole life, some for only part. But they have all taught me things that I needed, and have used, for all the 40 years I’ve been here.
The first one for me to talk about is my Dad. The man that taught me how to ride a bike, how to saddle and ride a horse, how to cut copper pipe, lay wooden flooring, how to follow written instructions, and when the instructions don’t make sense, how to figure it out on my own. The man can make almost anything, and he does it without a college degree. Life taught him how to figure his way out of problems, his own teachers that he still hears in his head to this day – his father, my grandfather, among them. He also taught me that “Shit Happens”, and that “Shit Washes Off”. He taught me that I could do anything, if I thought it out, planned, measured twice, cut once, and learned to deal with the results. “If it doesn’t fit, adjust what you’re building to fit the pieces you’ve got.”
In high school, my favorite teacher was Mr. “H”. He was funny, smart, taught about 5 different subjects (in a small school, you capitalize on what you’ve got available, even though the school never really appreciated him), among them Psychology, History, Government, Marriage and Family, & Driver’s Ed, AND coached the girls’ basketball team. He showed us that there was always room for more knowledge, and that you didn’t always have to find that knowledge in a book.
He took a special interest in my class, and helped us take many field trips, to the state capitol to learn about our own local government, to the Mandan Indian Mounds and Fort Lincoln to learn about history, and to the insides of our own heads, to learn about how we learn and how to change the way we process information. He taught us that the easiest way to actually get a subject, was to get into it. To get our hands dirty. We made models of landmarks from our history, we dabbled with imaginary money in the stock market, and followed our chosen “stocks” in the newspaper, we made up fictional skits about Lewis & Clark and many other historical figures. He was the man that introduced me to a lot of the useless facts that I still have rattling around in my brain, and showed me how to teach other people what I know, by getting animated about it, and not just reading it to them out of a book. He was an amazing teacher, and I still carry a lot of his knowledge with me.
*He who hesitates is lost*
*When you come to a curve, slow down and watch what’s coming. But once you get into the curve, speed up again, and trust your instincts.*
*Don’t assume that the only way you can learn is by reading about something. Get in there and get dirty. If you don’t try, you’ll never be able to do it.*
His daughter was much the same. She was my best friend in high school, and a fellow “outsider”, as we’d both migrated from other places to this small town of 300-some people. Neither of us had the “right” name (most everybody had been born and raised there, and were all related to one another in some fashion), so we were left out of most of the
inbred clique stuff. We both knew that there was a much larger world outside of our small town, and hung together through a lot of crap.
She taught me how to tie a perfect bow, how to get my hair to stay curled when all it wanted to do was be straight, how to talk my way around people that refuse to listen, and how to look at life sideways to get a different viewpoint. She taught me that art wasn’t just about straight lines, but about perspective. And that my words had meaning for more than just myself. She also taught me that being a nerd wasn’t the worst thing in the world. That you could have philosophical discussions while driving long-distance, and that living in a small town didn’t mean that I had to have a small mind.
These people helped form my viewpoint and my method of learning while I was young. Each in their own way, they showed me that I don’t have to be “like everyone else”, but that I can be unique and still make a difference. That there is no one right way to do anything, but that you can make your own path to the center, and enjoy the trip.
~It only takes one good apple to make the tree a success, and only one good teacher to make the lessons worthwhile.
I’m hoping that this apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and that I’m as good a teacher as they were to me.