What can we learn from each other? Some people teach us that we need help with boundaries. Some remind us that we are easy to love. We can observe the way some lovers make us want to escape, simmering a queasy feeling in our stomach that we practice patience and non-attachment with so that we are not harmed too much whilst in their presence and other lovers are always ready with a supportive word, assuring us that what we desire is valid, that we do not need to justify our path.
The people who we react to the most intensely, most of the time negatively, are these people our lessons? That sounds rather crass when thought to apply to anyone in an extremely oppressive and/or abusive situation. I would not suggest we apply this to anyone but ourselves, if indeed, it works for us. This is not the fatalistic idea of people belonging in a certain state or being punished for something. This is more a strategic curiosity of looking at our own agency from a back door. For example, my body might contort in frustration and sadness with someone, which could indicate I need to not be in relationship with their energies, but until I can create another path (maybe due to work commitments, relational obligations, financial situations, etc.), I feel more empowered reflecting so that I can learn about myself and others so as to perhaps not invite the same energies in during the future or to not have them affect me so harshly so that it doesn’t matter.
The earliest memories of myself are as a student. I have distinct memories of myself in my kindergarten classroom. I even remember the location of my seat in the specific cluster of tables I was assigned. I also remember the stick-figure graphics that adorned the pages of the phonics books we used to learn to read. In the second grade, I have my first memory of making a mistake. In a spelling test, I wrote ‘rite’ instead of ‘write’ – and for the life of me, I could not understand how my answer wasn’t the correct one! Yet, despite this incomprehensible error (smile, smile), and the many more since, the classroom has always been the place where my life has been transformed and revolutionized.
However, my most memorable learning moments began in undergrad, when I took an “Intro to the Old Testament” class in which my faith perspective was turned upside down. It was there that I first learned that the stories of the Hebrew Bible were not unique; other ancient people also had stories that paralleled them. The creation stories, the flood story, the exodus story, among others, all had parallels in other mythological texts and traditions. In grad school I learned that even the Gospel of Mark had parallels to Homer’sIliad. My whole religious tradition was flipped on its head – but the thing was – I absolutely loved it! I couldn’t have been more inspired. Those moments in the classroom of encountering theories and ideas that could set my whole mind reeling and my world spinning, that could revolutionize my way of thinking about the world, crystallized my commitment to a lifetime of learning. In those moments I came to realize that the classroom would always be my second home. Continue reading “Learning to Live by Xochitl Alvizo”