Richtercandles1 I'm 20 years older than two key role models: Rob Emrich at SpeakerSite and Matt Slaybaugh at Available Light.

Twenty years older! I could be their father (if I'd sired sooner).

I'm finding role models every day who are younger and younger.

Most of my mentors are younger than I am.

How did that happen?
How do you get to the point when your role models, mentors and teachers are younger than you are?

It is a sign of good fortune and longevity.

Hire A Teacher.
In Chaim Potok's The Chosen, we learn that we each have two obligations each year:

  1. Acquire a teacher
  2. Choose a friend

In a spirited debate, my son and I discovered — and placed on a PostIt note on the refrigerator door — "Teachers are wherever you seek them."

I'm looking toward the next generation for my next generation of mentors. And, happily, there are many wise, expressive, caring and patient teachers among this new generation.

A Lovely Example
Here's a younger person taking the time to be my teacher.

It's a lengthy email from Dane Zavodny, a recent student (who gave me permission to post this):

Hope this summer is treating you well. 

In reading through your blog recently, I saw that you've picked up running to get in shape for your hike. As a runner, I know where you're coming from when you say you dislike exercising for the sake of exercising. I think it's safe to say that many people have this love / hate relationship with running.

But while its very inconvenient to pick up a hobby such as exercising, I have found it to be very rewarding. However, until reading this specific blog post, I had not realized the connection to between my love for running and our class this past spring. A light bulb went off in my head and I was able to finally relate my hobby back to the things you spoke about repeatedly in class.

It's not about having a cord of chopped wood.
It's about falling in love with the chopping.

Running in itself is a very unenjoyable process (time commitment, physical struggle, even public embarrassment).

However, running allows us the opportunity to enjoy so much more than pounding our feet on the pavement:

  • Running gives us the opportunity to be outdoors and enjoy our creator’s creations.  So often we are sucked into our daily routines and obligations that we do not get the chance to experience the day.  Sure everyone talks about the weather, but running allows us to fully immerse ourselves in the gifts of nature. 
  • The pace is slow enough that the same ordinary streets we see every day can seem brand new when we pay attention to all the details.
  • The route is unfixed, so we are given the opportunity to explore places we’ve never been.  Whether we choose to run through busy streets or quiet trails, we are in control of our own path, something that is often taken for granted.
  • Working toward a goal and finding that effort yields results is something that is always incredibly rewarding for me. Whether it means pushing myself to run a little bit farther or a little bit faster, I know that I am the only person that can determine my success. 
  • Running also encompasses the idea of postponing today’s happiness for future rewards. In your case, suffering through training will allow you to successfully complete your hike without hospitalization. But that idea also translates into allowing yourself a more fulfilling life down the road. (You’re an educated guy, so you don’t need the lesson on physical fitness and life expectancy.)
  • Lastly, in addition to conserving dignity, night running provides me with Flow that I can’t find anywhere else. In the absence of light, sound, and distraction, night running provides me with time to myself for meditation and reflection. To me, running a few miles on a cool summer night is as close to Flow as I’ve found in my brief time here.

For me, it’s about enjoying the little things.
I find small joys in running long distances:

  • The constant drumbeat of feet combining with deep breaths as my lungs inhale and exhale creating a beautiful melody. 
  • Giving a friendly wave to an oncoming jogger as we cross paths.
  • Watching my shadow grow and shrink in the glow of the streetlights. 
  • Feeling sweat drip down my brow into the corners of my eyes.
  • Setting a personal goal for myself and working toward surpassing it.
  • Feeling goosebumps run up my chest and down my legs as the driveway comes into view around the last street corner.
  • Walking in the front door feeling like my body is made of a strange combination of Jello and cement. 
  • Falling into a deep sleep as soon as my head touches the pillow that night. 

I feel that it encompasses a variety of concepts discussed in class and, until reading your post, I did not make the connection.

On one hand it’s torture. On the other, it’s extremely comforting. 

I hope you are able to reach your goal and enjoy every second of your trip.  But please don’t forget to take your own advice and enjoy the pursuit.

Dane continues:

On a related note, I heard a proverb the other day that I had never heard before.  It has stuck with me, and I found it very motivating:

A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. [attributed to Erin Majors]

It’s very simple, and you may have heard it before. But just in case you hadn’t, I wanted to share it with you. As soon as I heard it, I thought of you and our creativity class. You have undoubtedly been an inspiration to many students both inside and outside the realm of school. Again, I thank you.

Thank you, Dane!
You warm an old teacher's heart. Rare is the student who shares class-inspired musings after the grades are turned in!

Hey, readers: Who are your role models?
Are they increasingly younger than you?