I teach only what I have learned for myself. This is a challenge for me as I also believe the adage – “You best teach what you most need to learn.” However, I believe this affirmation goes along with practicing patience. Often in the past I’ve shared what I thought was the most poignant wisdom only to have it hit the fan and come back into my face. So, all I can teach is what I’ve learned by my own experience, and I can only do so by sharing those experiences and perspectives that I have of those experiences (which often change over time).
There is nothing worse than a person in the midst of youth teaching about old age. Sure they can have opinion based upon observation of old age, but of old age they know nothing of real value to anyone. Or someone who has read a book that excites them and espouses the wisdom of that book without having actually practiced it themselves. There is no way to have every experience there is to have, and so there is not any use in claiming to understand anything fully from our singular perspective.
Over many experiences in the past, I can only conclude that the most we can contribute to any conversation with another is half. If we are not willing to accept that their knowing is as valid as our own, then we should keep our mouths shut. This I’ve learned in the school of hard knocks. It makes me think again of the gift of silence and how important it is to be willing to listen.
It is only by accepting that our wisdom is limited to what we’ve actually experienced that we have anything to offer at all, When we accept that those we hope to teach have something to teach us , then we let go of all notions of superiority and get down to the business of learning even as we teach. Think if every parent experienced their children as their teachers, even as they embodied the example of their best learning, what a world we could have!