This isn’t the first time I’ve written about someone who changed my life. But my first thought was that it was really me who made the difference. People did various heroic acts to save me from my own doings, but in the end, it was I that changed my life. They did just what they did to me to others with little effect so it was our relationship that was the cause of something happening to me. They tried to lite a candle, but most of the time the wind blew out their match. Somehow their match lit my candle. And usually, it took a fair amount of persistence on both of our parts. Surprisingly, some of these generous folks have now gone on in their lives. I have a nagging feeling with some of them that somehow I disappointed them.
I had a geometry teacher, Mr. Moulton, who said that the best mathematician was the laziest one. He challenged us with proving theorems. It was probably some of the most fun I’ve had in my life. Much of school didn’t make sense. I didn’t have any affinity with learning facts, but I loved math. Something seemed so elegant and clear about math.
Then there was my grandpa. We worked together in the summer. He would let me do as much as I could. I think of him more like my father during those years. He accepted me in a way that my parents did not. My parents always wanted me to do better. My grandpa always admired how I could figure things out.
My parents and my sisters were very verbal. I couldn’t keep up with them. Then there was my art teacher who told my parents that I had made a beautiful photo. He encouraged me for years. He taught me about being creative. He was a gift of the gods for me.
In college, I had some wonderful teachers who taught me so much. The saw in me something that I did not see. All of a sudden I had a voice, and they encouraged me to use it.
My sister Gail was always a special soul in my life. She saw me in a very loving way. Somehow I could say anything to her and it was ok.
My wife of 50 years has been such a special friend. We have grown up together and like one another more and more as the years pass. I still miss her when she’s been gone all day and I am so glad when she returns home.
And then there is a dog who actually found me and became my friend for many years. He taught me quite a bit about friendship.
My kids were quite a surprise. From the beginning, they were so smart and independent. They seemed to develop into such fine people through some kind of magical spell.
And I’ve had a few good friends. Each gave me so much in their own ways.
Now I’ve had a number of Zen teachers, again each giving me so much care and teachings. I am grateful for the energies they expend and for the wisdom that they share.
It seems that my only regret is that all these influences are impermanent. Some of these people have died and others gave me what they could and went off in different directions. Luckily, I still have a number of them still around, and find new special ones everywhere I turn.
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