*Out of the night that covers me/Black as the pit from pole to pole/I thank whatever gods may be/For my unconquerable soul.
Recently I ran into a former student on one of my forays through a southern neighborhood. An excited voice calling my name, reminded me that one is never really out of sight. I looked across the way to see a young man, amidst a spattering of people on the edge of a yard, waving to me. We closed the gap with our conversation and talked for much longer than I would have assumed. First came the statements about how he’d loved my class, then a volley of stories and direct quotes of mine he’d retained. He introduced me to his family and comrades as his art teacher, his best teacher, his favorite teacher. The entire time he was smiling intently, excited to be where he is in life and sharing it with me. His present space, his beautiful young family, his passion, his goals, ambition and useable intel he shared with me was fresh air. I allowed myself to breath deep with a feeling of a satisfying meal, not only for myself, but for all seated at the table. …
I could see the essence of my teaching philosophy manifested before me; the student teacher roles evolved and revolving in the mutuality of true education applied. As I walked away, he walked with me sharing information that I will use in my own edification. As the rain began to spot the ground around us we continued to walk, with my company in unison. This was a return on an investment, a colorful reminder of where the real currency lies. During our entire exchange, not once did he mention anything I’d taught him about art production or an art lesson per se. Perhaps art serves as a stop, look, and listen sign. It’s an acronym for a resurrecting truth. What is the thing that invokes the life in you, that makes you rise to attention, your eyes sparkle? In re-membering what that is and acting on that, you become the artist and the art, the master of your fate, the captain of your soul.
*See Invictus by William Ernest Henley