I’ve been ruminating about people I’ve encountered who inspire, support and impart their wisdom into the world. I call these people ‘mentors’; ‘leaders‘; Onties (*Aunties); Onkles (*Uncles); and
When I was 5 years old my mother died suddenly. As a young guy I knew something big had happened. But I didn’t realise the impacts of this loss until I became a young man. This is when I subconsciously started to swim into the world looking for places to steady myself.
As I’ve matured I’ve become more conscious of people who can see through the murkiness of churned up water. At times I become disorientated by the fragility of life. I can become wary of the waves, and scared of the undertow of my everyday world. During these times I search for a steady rock to cling to, to halt my movements, and enable me to re-charge. E kimi ana ahau i ngā toka tū moana.
This is an endless search for me. Life is a weird and mysterious thing. Like ocean tides, my experiences of the positive, negative, and mediocre come and go. Impermanence is a reality. Yet, thanks to the many Wise Ones in my life, the freakiness of ocean waves become less freaky. I am slowly learning to ride waves, go with a flow, or dive deep.
I’ve had to be open to this. I have to listen. I have to work at it. I’ve come to appreciate the idea and practice of not just doing something, but standing there. This is not limited to my encounters with lots of different people, but includes how I am in the natural world too. It’s about noticing the everyday. It’s recognising the qualities and senses of life: sounds, touch, smells, feelings, sights, thoughts.
The buzz word that best sums up this way of being is “mindfulness”. While it’s not a new practice, mindfulness is taking the western world by storm. It’s being applied in health, and is more and more common in education, leadership, sport and exercise programmes and in business. Proof of its effectiveness socially and culturally is clear.
So how does mindfulness relate to the people who anchor and inspire us? For me, the link is about actively noticing these people… And then thanking them. It’s about being cogent of those who enable us to grow into ourselves – whoever or wherever we are – and live life fully.
Mentors cultivate courage and support positive change. This is important in a world of contradictions, suffering and suffocated potential. Leaders instill the realisation that people are not alone. Onties and Onkles keep us real.
Radical disruptors encourage and support people to ask tricky questions, re-think assumptions, and keep going.
When the waves crash over me, the rocky edges enable me to holdfast; they also cut my hands, and wake me up.