Letters to the Editor
I liked John Dallas Hicks’ piece “The Particular Value of Pathfinders” as it resonated with what I have thought about for years, or at least since I became old enough to think for myself. What Hicks calls ‘pathfinders’, I would call mentors. It has intrigued me that if you keep your heart and mind open, there are mentors who pop up in all kinds of unexpected places, people who you instinctively sense have ‘got it’. I taught for years in various schools for the performing arts and I knew when a student was looking to me for more than what I was actually trying to teach. She was looking for encouragement and guidance – someone who would say “It’s okay who you are, and what you are striving for is okay, or NOT!” – someone who’s opinion and criticism carried the weight of authenticity based on age and experience. I found my own mentors wherever I could: the woman in the school cafeteria who probably was being paid a pittance, who had a smile for everyone and happily dolloped an extra portion on your plate because she could see you were tired and rundown. Or the blind woman that I lived with when I was a student in London, who never complained of her blindness and who always wanted to know how my day had been when I returned home from the ballet school. Or the teacher who said to me when I graduated and was worried that I wouldn’t find a job: “Don’t worry, there’ll always be a place for someone who is dedicated and is good at what they do!” I clung to that bit of wisdom through all kinds of rough patches.
When I look at the faces of many Mexicans, the freely given smile, the kindness and warmth they show towards their friends and families, their acceptance of us foreigners living in their midst, they too are my mentors who, by their very being, shine a light on how one should be, we who have so much and are often grouchy and discontented with our lot.