Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Precious E-mail

My friend Luci–who you might know as Platitudinal–who is just a kid, really–sent me an e-mail after I asked her if she liked her jobs. She has two jobs. This is only part of her message, in which she describes one of her jobs. She gets upset when I call her "wise beyond her years." She's from Indonesia, and has a great accent:

I give piano lesson in the afternoon. I enjoy teaching. It improves me as a person. Some kids practice, some listen and follow instruction, some are good natured and positive, and there are some to be so unfortunate to possess no will nor motivation, and threadbare manners. The parents are a funny bunch. Some are kind, some are thoughtful, some are easygoing, and there are some that are high strung or easily stressed, some are flaky, some are thoughtless.

The problem I have with piano teaching is the one to one contact exhaust me. I need to recharge my battery by being alone afterward, and that leaves nothing for my family. Since the extra income is needed, I had to learn to deal with it. Still learning. What I learn is people ... be them children, teens, or adults ... they are individuals that crave recognition, acceptance, and compassion. Even the seemingly rude or selfish adults (parents) actually are good people that are just thoughtless. They are so busy thinking about their work, chores, errands ... so consumed by their lives that they forgot that their action effect others. My task is to deal with this "effect." To keep on reminding myself that my worth and my self does not come from their validation. I have another source for that: a reliable and unfailing one. I also learned that what I had previously termed as being intimidated is actually more like ... unpleasant company. Some people's company is unpleasant to me. So, in a sense the problem is I don't like them because I don't enjoy them. I change my attitude to ... oh, how can I enjoy this person today, how can I treat them as a special person and hopefully that they get the message that they're enjoyable and special ... then each encounter/lesson is less intimidating/unpleasant. When I try to look at it that way, it is not so exhausting to be with them. I certainly like my teaching days more now that I focus on enjoying my student and their parents. Some are more challenging than others, but that's just like working on Sudoku problem, isn't it? There are different levels: gentle, moderate, tough, and diabolical. And I like doing Sudoku :) It is one way to be creative, to find things from a person that I can enjoy. And it does have a side effect benefit that I really like, I don't get butterfly jitters in my tummy as I wait their arrival and the day is more pleasant. It's not a nice way to live when one only get excited for Fridays and weekends (I don't teach on Fridays and weekends) ... it's far nicer to enjoy the whole 7 days, yes?