Friday, April 23, 2010

Risk, Reward and Recognition

Today I received in the mail a letter from T, a friend to whom I wrote a few weeks ago. I had told T how she inspired me by rising above her divorce--an ugly split precipitated by her husband's cheating--with such dignity and grace. T has moved on with a new husband and two beautiful boys who, as I told her, are so lucky to have her as their mama:

... One thing I've realized as I've written these letters ... is that there are so many lessons I've learned from my friends ... And one of those lessons ... is that life doesn't always turn out like you planned, and might just be the very best thing. I hope to share with my son the idea that sometimes you just have to hang in and trust you're on your way to somewhere good, even if the road seems to be rolling straight through hell ...

T responded
with a lovely note of her own, relating how she has shared with others my story of leaving my first marriage in order to find someone who wanted children, and how that decision has worked out in the best way possible:

... I really admired you for taking a risk for something you knew was important to you. Not everyone would be willing to do that and would instead be unhappy on some level and most likely wonder "what if" ... there's another cliche I've come to believe in life-- nothing worthwhile comes easily ...

Her words at the end of a frustrating week during which I struggled, away from my infant son for hours a day at a job I don't really enjoy, and reinvigorated my pursuit of new dreams for myself and my family. I also got a sense of what I might be giving other people with my words. T and other recipients have acknowledged my letters, saying they came "at the best time" and "made me cry--a good cry!"

It's true: we want to be validated for what we've accomplished. And in writing my letters of praise--to a 14-year-old girl trying out for the football team, a recovering alcoholic in his 20th-plus year of sobriety, my brother accelerating in his career--I am myself informed, impelled and inspired.

A Buddhist proverb says that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. If we believe that we are actually surrounded by our teachers, then we as students have become ready--the lessons are all that remain to be discovered. What, and from whom, are you learning today?

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