Ho Hey! I am still here, but wow. Second year of grad school is underway. Oh. My. Gawd. I have new classes, new classmates, and a whole butt-load of new books. I also have new teachers, who are mostly amazing. I have one who is spinning my brain around like a stomach that has consumed far too much chili and caffeine. She speaks like an enlightened soul, but what I keep discovering about enlightened souls is this: when a person claims to be enlightened, or a “healer” (at least in white America), they typically are anything but. Why is this? I believe in healers. I believe some people get close to and maybe even achieve enlightenment, but I also believe those select few do not brag about it. They use their powers for good and not evil. Good doesn’t need bragging rights.
I sit in her class, trying to listen, trying to learn, but I keep obsessing over her poorly organized syllabus. The letters on the page spin around with numbers, creating a tornado of information that suddenly renders me dyslexic. It’s going to make this whole education thing a lot harder, no longer being able to read. She seems to want to prove something to us, and I have had educators like this before. Never forget, teachers of the world, how much your students have to teach you. The best teacher I ever had did not have a PhD, she did not have a Masters degree, in fact, I’m not even sure if she finished undergrad. What she did have was passion. She loved what she taught, and no matter how many letters are following your name, all that matters is passion. Oh, and humor. I mean, all that passion can be a bit like too much ice cream – you gotta wash it down with something. Like beer. She was my beer and ice cream. I hope everyone has an opportunity to experience such a teacher. It’s a sight to behold. Like being in the presence of a healer or something.
Following is the goodbye letter I wrote to that powerful woman. It’s not an easy thing – to say goodbye. She died less than two weeks ago. The world lost a load of glitter, but I hope other educators can embrace her example of passionate teaching and inspire minds to learn and grow as she always did.
When I first met you, in 1996, you were my teacher. Your knowledge, reputation and quick wit initially intimidated me. The pedestal you had been put upon was so high. And then you told me a hilarious story, and I snorted. My fear departed with that snort. The intimidation melted and you were Elaine, standing before me, full of kindness and a burning, insatiable desire to teach others everything you knew. Thanks for the story, it gave me a chance to see you, the bright light you are. You have undeniable magnetism; we all want to be near you, to have your eyes on us, we seek your praise, while we can only hope to one day have your wit.
After ten years away, I came back to the massage school as a teacher, and there you were. I was honored to be able to work alongside you, the greatest teacher I’d had in life. I was privy to more stories and silliness and knowledge. When I think of BCMT, I think of you. You are the reason the school has a great reputation, and the reason it continues to attract other amazing teachers and students. Without you, many massage therapy grads probably would have fizzled out long ago. Your ceaseless energy and optimism inspire people each and every day.
Have you seen political glitter bombs? They are usually geared toward someone who has professed close-minded views, often anti-gay in nature. What a great way to fight back: cover negativity and repression with reflecting bits of sun and light, turning someone who seemed so dark into someone who has sparkle potential. That’s how I see you – as a human glitter bomb. You do this all the time. You name a person’s potential, give them sparkle, and watch them shine. What a sensation, to bask in such positivity! To be a shining, dancing bit of joy! Through your teaching and human interactions, you glitter bomb all over the place, and I have enjoyed witnessing the sparkling residue of positivity trailing behind.
You have hugged me like a person should be hugged: cells squishing together, molding around one another, confusing their states of being, wondering whose are whose! It is a hug like we all wish our mothers could give. Unconditional love pours from your entire being. You are an energetic mother to so many, a person filled with mama light, and I have felt it and I appreciate it. As best I can, I will emulate that light and love, teaching and learning as I go. You have shown your peers, your students, your clients and your loved ones how to live honestly. Thank you for that.
I know you have many important things to do in your journey, you’ve done such a thorough job here. I am sad in a very selfish way to say good-bye to you, Elaine, because I will miss you. But in another way, I’m not sad because I know a person like you continues. A glitter bomb may change, become a different color with the light, but it never disappears. And no matter where it goes, you’ll find pieces of it left behind, reminders of it’s presence. You will always sparkle, wherever you travel. I love you, and I love the glitter I find you’ve left on my soul.
Thank you for your generous role in life, filling so many heads and hearts with passion. I feel so lucky to have known you, Elaine, as more than simply my teacher. Your baby chicks will continue sparkling, as glitter-residue is everlasting.
I love you forever!”
I’m only sharing this because I know so many people felt similar – she was very loved. Imagine having students loving you this much. I mean really. Teachers are amazing people, and some of them are even amazing teachers. If you teach, anyone, any age, anywhere, don’t forget a healthy dose of glitter. It goes a long way.