Saturday, May 21, 2011

Teaching Exchange

            The patio at the pub is drenched in sunshine, and I’m enjoying a summery pint, basking in the weather, and in the feel of day’s work well done.  Brittney is on her way to meet me.
            What I don’t know, yet, is that life is about to hand me one of those magical interludes, where something completely unexpected and very wonderful happens.  When Brittney arrives, there are other friends with her, some I know, some I don’t.  We chat over beers, and inevitably, juggling breaks out.  By now, it’s become a natural part of our semi-planned gatherings.
            When I sit down to take a break, Emily, who I just met says something about wanting so badly to juggle, but she was never able to learn.  I can teach you, I say, I’ve taught lots of people.  I’m thinking sometime, but she wants to learn now, right now.
            We start with the basics.  I instruct her in making nice, round throws, about chin high, and I talk about the timing, giving her my basic, “you have more time than you think you do” speech.
            She’s picking it up quickly, and before you know it, she’s gotten her first three-ball sequence of throws and catches.  There is an expansive feeling when that is first experienced, a feeling of freedom, an exhilarating release and expansion that is unparalleled.  When she feels it, I see it in her face, and it takes me back to the first time I experienced it.
            And in an instant, I realize I’m having one of those moments of connection with another person, a moment that was unconscious, lived purely in the moment.  I notice, then fall quickly back into the raw experience.  Emily is hooked, well and truly!  She throws the balls again and again, reveling in each successive increase in her sequences.  When she drops them, she almost pounces on them, as if she can’t wait to get started again.
            I know the feeling well.  I’m also familiar with the smile that has come to dominate her face in the last twenty minutes. 
            I have laundry to do, and it’s getting late, so I make my goodbyes.  I thank Emily, and I can tell she thinks that is backwards.  She hands the balls to me, and there is a hint of disappointment in the gesture, of reluctance.  I push them back toward her.  Keep going I say, enjoy.  Leave them up front when you go, I’m here all the time, I’ll get ‘em tomorrow.
            When I leave, she is immersed, in sequence, color, motion.  And she’s still wearing that huge, unself-conscious smile.  That smile comes on by itself, a smile that is a direct result of a moment purely had, without distraction, without evaluation.
            A moment of perfect, mindful living.
            At the library the phone rings.  Faliesha didn’t know I’d left, and she’s disappointed she missed me.  I stop by the pub on the way back to the car, to see her.  And as I step out onto the patio, there is Emily, an hour later. The huge smile is still there.
            She’s juggling.

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