I remember the first time I heard Lou Reed & The Velvet Underground as I was sitting on my friend Rob’s couch. It literally made me sit up, turn toward the stereo and ask Rob who that was. I needed to know. The music grabbed me instantly and I was converted. The Velvet Underground was a bit before my musical time but I turned to Lou Reed’s solo career and to this day, still listen to his music regularly. I am still moved. I also remember the day he died. I had just missed a concert by one of my favorite performers the day before because I was just too busy or tired or some other excuse for not driving an hour to see her. The next day when I heard that Lou Reed had passed away, I felt like a piece of me had been ripped out of my chest and my breathing honestly felt a bit strained.
Mentors and influencers appear and move in and out of our lives. There are times that we ‘outgrow’ the influence of our mentors. That is one way to look at it. There are times that the culmination of influence of our mentors lifts us up to a higher level, purpose and calling. We do not ‘outgrow’ them but rather flourish under their influence and knowledge nurturing that it becomes time for our own evolution. Parker Palmer in The Courage to Teach speaks of phases in our growth that the need to mentored is diminished and the opportunity to mentor reveals itself. Unrealized, this juncture can be experienced as a plateau or even professional burnout. Yet, if we can turn and recognize that opportunity-to nurture and influence others, to pass on that magic that was shared with us, we can pass through that dubious plateau or burnout phase. That ‘magic’ is a gift that can grow exponentially within us and those that we influence.
As we reach the halfway point of 2016, I have seen too many of my mentors and influencers pass on this year-be it David Bowie, Russell DeVreugd or Dr. Dennis McCullough. I think of the lost opportunities I had to spend more time with Russell as I was not and do not think would ever be finished needing his guidance. If only I had made the time to get together again at the bench. I think of the missed opportunity I had to contact Dr. McCullough, introduce myself and share the impact that his teachings & philosophy has had on my own life, my teaching and patient care. If only I had made that call or written that letter.
I look back at those opportunities lost-if even for one more chance. Their influence remains but that piece of my chest is still missing. It has been filled though with their memories, lessons and impact. I look forward now to new opportunities realized-to pass from the receiver of their influence to the one that shares it forward to the next recipient, colleague or mentee. That is the Magic & the Loss.
When you pass through the fire, you pass through humble
You pass through a maze of self doubt
When you pass through humble, the lights can blind you
Some people never figure that out
Magic & Loss, Lou Reed 1992