Facing the Unknown
I have a very distinct memory from my teen years. I am sitting pool side at a graduation party. I am only a week or so away from leaving high school for ever. My friend’s parents are out-of-town for the weekend and about thirty of us are having a great time. The freedom flag is flying high and we feel invincible!
Sitting next to me is one of my closest friends. We warmed the bench on the basketball team together for the past four years. We spent dozens of Friday nights watching the Celtics win at his house. We did what suburban boys do growing up in western Massachusetts. We were not attached at the hip, though, he was quite different from me in many ways…for starters, he went on to Wharton School of Business and eventually amassed a real estate empire…I went on to become a jazz pianist. Enough said. But, in our teen years, I always felt safe around him. I knew he was a devoted friend. He would not abandon me. I trusted him.
Our conversation is about the future and what it will hold? We are heading in very different directions and we both know that we will drift apart. We both know that the four years we had as friends was unique. It was not meant to last. It served it’s purpose. And it all of a sudden hit me as I sat staring in my beer, that I was at a profound pivot point in life and more importantly, I wasn’t sure I was ready.
I began to cry. I wept openly in front of this friend and I did so uncontrollably. This is, by the way, NOT something suburban boys from western Mass do… There are moments in life that are so clear and moving and if we are lucky, sometimes we are awake enough, observant enough, to truly feel the full effect of them. This was one of these moments. Life was going to change radically, whether I liked it or not.
We have a student @ BMF who is at this exact pivot point right now. He is graduating from high school & Brooklyn Music Factory. I have watched him grow musically (and in many other ways) for more than six years. In the Fall he is heading off to college. The other day I shared that story with him. His response was wonderful & shocking to me. He said, ‘I have been crying a lot lately.’ Nothing more.
I am reminded that as teachers we learn more from our students than they from us. This was clearly one of these moments for me.
Here was a boy, soon to be a man, who felt comfortable enough to reveal something so raw, something so real, with his music teacher. I was moved by his honesty. I was inspired by his willingness to own his emotions. I was reminded that I am feeling every day in vivid ways and that it’s up to me to stay open and aware. It’s up to me to go into each and every emotion. We can run away from our feelings or we can run into them, embrace them.