Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Teacher

I've always loved the expression, "The teacher comes when the student is ready." Although I was pretty pissed off when that teacher never showed up all through college. I certainly thought I was ready. Since then, outside the traditional school system, I've been more fortunate. There was a great mentor in my early professional film life in NYC. There have been teachers who took the forms of therapists and healers. In the last decade there have been some wonderful yoga teachers. Most recently there is Wendy.

Wendy is a certified Pilates master. She runs a teacher training facility here in Austin. I originally found it because I was looking for the cheapest way to do pilates. Working with seriously trained students for a bargain rate seemed ideal. In the back of my head too, I heard my doctor father's words, "Hospitals attached to medical schools are always better." So I started with the cheapest trainers. Then they got better, as did I, and I moved up a tier economically. I didn't feel sturdy enough to begin again with the newest crop. My favorites graduated. My knee started hurting. Across the room I saw the quiet intense way that Wendy worked with her clients. And every once in awhile she jumped in to assist my trainer. Her comments dead on the mark. So I took a chance. Set up one session just to deal with my knee. I got hooked. That one hour was more intense than the previous year combined. Wendy's understanding of the mechanics of the body were stunning. We began working together weekly.

It was always intense. Always productive. Always slow. Quick on my feet in some areas, in the physical world, I'm slow. I refuse to learn anatomy and what connects to what. These days I can't retain the sequences mentally. So Wendy would patiently take me through, week after week. No attitude. No, "you're so fat you really should feel embarrassed." Or, "I can't believe that I have to repeat this over and over." Instead her smile was lovely, her energy positive, her focus clear. She'd say, "I can't believe how in your body you are. How tuned in."

Friday morning became the highlight of my week. Because it was rigorous, challenging, and rewarding. There's plenty of pleasure and stimulation in my life, but this was one focused hour that was hard and specific and clearly creating tangible change. I liked the work. I just liked being around Wendy.

Eventually she checked out the film that loomed large in my life the last few years. She loved it. We had a dinner out to discuss it further and became fast friends. She invited me along on a field trip with her trainees - to that Body Wave exhibit in Houston. I was like her puppy, just following along soaking up her intrinsic love of the body. Her understanding and love of the complexity brought it alive for me. We got lost driving around looking for a place to eat. We spent hours together. Her husband, a film fan, brought an added delightful dimension. I loved seeing how this even longer married couple than I navigated and expressed their love.

I've been missing her, because recently she took off to Colorado to train as a rolfer. Not to work as a rolfer, but to bring a rolfer's perspective to her work with the core connections. I go to classes, and try to remember my homework routines. Mostly I miss her and have been counting the days til she returned.

Friday I got an email that she'd just been in a car accident. Hurt but alive. Her husband emailed, "she couldn't be in a better place to recuperate." Right. Surrounded by rolfers and all the other New Agers up in Boulder. So this is my shout out to Wendy. To wish her a speedy recovery. To thank her for being such a powerfully positive force in the life of someone like me. For being such a damned fine teacher. For being the Teacher I was ready for.

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