Once upon a time, Coyote fancied himself a teacher. He saw a young boy who had trouble learning things – lessons wouldn’t stick. They slipped from his head, like water off of rocks. And all the teachers in the world stamped away with frustration. “How do we get through to him?”
So Coyote said, “Hey, I know how we can teach him! Just let me have a go.”
So he went to the child, who was learning to ride a bike for the first time. The child did not understand the instruction. Teachers told him how to ride, but when he applied it, he fell down. The teachers eventually gave up. Coyote just stood there and said, “Guess you can’t ride.” And he walked away. This puzzled the child. After a bit, he picked up the bike and tried to ride it. Just as he was figuring out how to balance, Coyote talked to the ground and convinced it to move, knocking the child down.
Knee skinned, the child got up again and went to the bike. He tried again, this time getting a little further, getting confident, only to be knocked down. Coyote kept doing this even as the other teachers whispered to him “Stop. This is cruel!” But eventually, bruised and battered, the child rode the bike as if he was born doing so. Coyote smiled. “See, he just needed encouragement. He won’t remember a lesson unless it hurts. Best teacher in the world is experience and pain.”
Coyote’s been my teacher for the longest time. I’m too thick in the skull to learn lessons just by reading them, or hearing them. I pick up facts, but not lessons. Or, as I said in conversation with a friend:
“Andy, you’re the most intelligent person I know.”
“Yes, but there’s a difference between being intelligent, and being smart. I’m not smart.”
When I say I want to try something, or learn something, Coyote knows I’m not going to see the obvious pitfalls until I stumble into them. So, he gives me a push. I learned one of those lessons this week. It is hard, and painful, and still aches in a way which really shakes my core nature. But one of my projects this year is to break my comfort zone. To not need Coyote pushing me, but to walk ahead and learn lessons on my own. The downside to the way Coyote teaches is you start to expect the sabotage, the lesson to be learned as demonstrated by the Lord of Irony. You start to sabotage yourself. Everything is an obstacle. And when things go wrong, you expect things to go so horribly wrong there’s no recovering from it beyond Coyote laughing and saying, “Well, that’s a bit of a rough lesson. Still, what happens when we fall, Master Bruce?”
I know this lesson was important, but it’s left me winded and a little beaten up. I just wish my brain worked in other ways.