A phone call and an appointment put me face to face with a handsome young journalist, thoughtful, attentive, and thorough. As the interview progressed, with various interruptions from my four-year-old granddaughter, it emerged that Cai Roman had participated in a ceramics class I taught at The Bascom for high school students, at the invitation of Pat Taylor. “I remember what you taught us,” Cai said, “and I still have the piece I did with you.” Stunned that someone would remember what I had taught, I asked what it had been. It seems I had instructed the students to work with closed eyes, using only blind touch to explore the clay, to find their way towards form through an interior process. I remembered how Pat had invited me to challenge these students to move beyond the expected and the familiar.
To encounter this young man, for whom such a challenge had been important, reminds me now of the impact our lives can have in ways we may never know. Our awareness of the effect we may have on others is often limited. Yet if you think back on your life and the people who have had powerful, if fleeting, impact on you, it is doubtful these individuals know their importance to you.
I think of my seventh grade teacher who told me I could climb higher on the ladder, of a neighbor who taught me a few French words when I was five, of an unknown boy in a crowded restaurant who gave me a compliment and shifted my view of myself, of a college professor whose adamant confidence in me changed the direction of my life. I am sure not one of these people knows the power of their influence on my life. It is doubtful you have any idea what you mean to a whole range of other people. Or that a range of others know how much they have meant to you. What if you made a list for yourself of those whose presence has altered your skills, your maturity, your sensitivity, your awareness? And on whose unknown list might you be surprised to find yourself?
Thank you, Cai, for letting me know. And thank you for your most respectful article. It is evident you were really listening.
Article appears in Legacy Magazine: Life on the Plateau, Complexity: Highlands Resident Explores Life Through Art by Cai Roman.