Tag Archives: Talent

What I Dreamed About in the Quiet Room in the Attic

28 Jul

I have come to the quiet room in the attic to write. It smells of books and old wallpaper, and I feel as if I am in my own private library. The desk is directly underneath the window and I gaze sleepily at the shimmering leaves of the giant trees in front of the house. There is a strong wind today and, despite being discontented about yet another grey day, I am soothed by the soft whisperings of the birches.

Apart from a desk and a bookshelf, the room has nothing to distract attention. No-one passes through here and it will be a while until the others realise where I am. I have all the time in the world. I prop my head up with my hands and dream out of the window.

The pine tree is covered in tiny drops of rain, which it has not managed to shake off with the wind. The small birch is waving frantically at its elder, who is so tall and elegant, that only her head and shoulders show sign of movement. The fir tree, with its three-meter branches, is still; its peaceful breathing suggests that it is at rest.

I observe these friends; we have known each other since childhood and I have got so used to seeing them that I no longer pay much attention to them.

I get up from the desk and walk over to the bookshelf, on which a random collection of books has been growing for the past fifty years. History, art, fiction, crime, biography, and even a stamp collection, can be found here, all with yellowing pages and fading covers. One book catches my attention and I take it off the shelf: Matilda Kshesinskaya – Memoirs. I was thinking about her only last week, funny how I should discover her autobiography in the quiet room of my family home.

I look at photos of Matilda in her various dance roles, and my thoughts wander over ballerinas and their hard work and discipline. Over their perseverance, their talent and their elegance. Over their strength of character, their mysteriousness and their beauty. They possess a wealth of exemplary qualities and, as I flick through the pages and bring my nose closer to the paper to inhale the smell of this old book, I remember a quote that I once read and have never forgotten:

“God gives talent. Work transforms talent into genius.”
~ Anna Pavolva

One day, perhaps, I will have the wisdom of a ballerina…

If You Love It, Teach It!

16 Mar

“The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.”  ~ Author Unknown

The best teacher that I have ever had stood out from all the dozens of others by one simple thing: love. This teacher loved what she taught, she loved teaching and she loved her pupils. Every time I was in her class, I felt as if that hour with her was sacred. She treated every pupil as her own child, and taught us in a way that showed us that we were just as important to her as she was to us. She truly wanted to share her knowledge with us, and to make us discover the happiness that she herself experienced through this subject. Through her honesty, openness, attention and care she did more than teach – she inspired.

In current times, it is rare to find a teacher with all of the above qualities. I have come across teachers who taught simply to make money, or because they couldn’t find another job; I have known teachers who were unqualified and unmotivated, and those who simply did not care about their students. Jacques Barzun rightly said that “teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition”. The current focus on passing exams and getting the best grades has transformed learning from a process of discovery to a process of repetition, regurgitation and memorisation. Teachers are no longer valued as our guides to self-discovery, and they are no longer respected as professionals with a wealth of knowledge.

There is never a shortage of eager students looking for the perfect teacher (all of us would love to learn one thing or another), but unfortunately, there is a shortage of eager teachers looking for the perfect student. Why is that? Because we have come to believe that being a teacher means having a qualification or a post to confirm our abilities. In fact, there is a teacher in all of us: we all have something that we love and that we would love to pass on to others. Last week-end, I taught yoga to a friend. We did a ‘proper’ class, with postures, sequences and techniques, and both of us came away happy. I am not a yoga master, nor am I trained as a yoga teacher, but yoga is something that I love, and something that I would love to pass on to others, and therefore it was a great pleasure for me to spend an evening teaching it to someone who was curious and willing to learn.

We all know how much joy it brings us to share our passion with others, and I believe that one of the best ways to do this is by teaching. Whether you love literature, singing, playing on the piano, gardening, knitting, swimming, writing, playing chess…there is someone who would love to learn from you. Whether in a formal or informal class, paid or free, with friends or strangers, regularly or irregularly, to a group or to an individual, sharing what you love is a gift. Don’t let your talents and your passions go to waste – pass them on!

If you love it, teach it!