I’m always who I am because I can’t be anybody else.
But I’m not always all of who I am to everyone.
I show different aspects of myself depending on the circumstances.
Some parts I readily and often display.
Others I seldom reveal.
A few, never.
When I’m with my horse, I’m slightly different from the person I am when I’m hanging out with musicians. I show a different face when I’m fighting from the one I show when I’m teaching. I’m like a chameleon: though my superficial appearance may change to suit the environment, my overall shape and internal workings remain the same.
I’ve done hard time on planet earth. Had adventures and misadventures. I’ve been a friend, a lover, and an enemy. I’ve broken hearts and had mine broken. I’ve been a hero, a coward, and a clown; a villain, a thief, and a fool. A dreamer and a cynic. I’ve buried hopes and I’ve buried friends. I’ve been, like Frank says, a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king. You name it.
And I’ve got miles to go before I sleep.
I tell stories.
People I’ve known, things I’ve seen.
Where I’ve been, what I’ve done, and what I learned --- usually by making mistakes.
Some stories belong to other people. But they can’t tell them any more so I do it for them.
Some stories are funny. Some are sad.
Some are funny one second, and sad a split second later.
A lot of that going around.
Sometimes the point of the story is obvious, sometimes it isn’t.
Sometimes the story seems like a random digression.
It never is.
The purpose of the story is always the same: to elicit an emotional response from my student.
To make them feel.
Make them laugh.
To do that, I have to allow the emotional response in me. I have to allow them to see my joy, my pain, my fear, my anger. That’s how they know what the story means. I’m a tuning fork. They’re tuning forks. I vibrate at a certain pitch, and their vibrations entrain with mine.
Some stories are told and retold many times as part of my teaching “repertoire.”
Yet each time I tell it, it has to feel spontaneous, as if I were telling it for the first time. To do that, I have to be willing to experience the feelings of the story myself, sometimes quite unpleasant feelings, over and over again for my students’ benefit.
It ain’t easy being a bodhisattva.
But I’m tough.
I can take it.
Every story has cost me something.
Every story will cost them something too: innocence.
They will not be the same person after the feelings elicited by the story, that they were before they heard the story. Their values, beliefs and attitudes may change. As a result, their behavior may change. If it does, then I know they’ve actually learned something.
To become the person you can be, you must sacrifice the person you were.
That’s the trade-off. It’s the price everybody pays.