Once I was lamenting to my teacher that I felt like I was walking a tight rope without a safety net. I was feeling like I needed someone to reassure me that everything was okay and that I wouldn't fall. Instead what he said was: "oh... so you're afraid of falling? It's okay if you fall. I've fallen lots of times. Sometimes it hurts but you just get up and keep moving forward" Not exactly what I wanted to hear but since then I've gone back to that advice many times.
I'm going back to it again now as I prepare to offer a class on a topic that is very near and dear to me. I worry that I might fail. I worry that I'm not good enough. I don't know enough. I tell myself that someone else would do a better job than me. On and on the board of directors in my mind goes.... bringing to the surface all my fears and self-doubt.
I'm again walking the tight rope without a safety net. What if I fall? So what if I do? What if I succeed? Is it my failure that I fear or my success? If I let my fear of falling stop me from even trying how will I ever know if I can walk the tight rope? I would imagine that everyone who's ever tried as fallen at least once. More likely lots of times before they mastered it.
One foot in front of the other I move forward. If something doesn't work I accept it and try something else. Teaching is just as much about learning as it is teaching. For me, the practice of teaching is an opportunity for me to learn flexibility and trust and acceptance.
Flexibility: Even though I may have prepared an elaborate lesson plan when class starts
I may have to scrap it and go with the flow. My experience has been that those classes end up being even better than I imagined.
Trust: Developing trust in myself and in the flow of Divine grace isn't always easy but always necessary. I can say without a doubt that I have the best teachers so it stands to reason that since they are awesome teachers that I've learned a great deal from them. I trust without a doubt in the wisdom they have taught me. That I'm sure of. They have also reminded me often that the wisdom comes from somewhere greater then myself. I am, after all, just a channel. It isn't my business to know how or why it happens. I just need to be open to the flow of grace.
Acceptance: Teaching has ultimately taught me that I must accept the fact that sometimes I will fail. I will not effectively get my message across. It has taught me that (gasp!!) some people may not be open to me as a teacher. In those circumstances I need to examine the role of my ego in my resistance to accepting this fact. I've learned that sometimes the ideas of how I want to teach something sounds perfect in my mind but it doesn't manifest in way I had imagined it. What choice do I have but to accept when things don't work and move on and try something else.
Teaching feels very much like walking a tight rope without a safety net at times. The trick is to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward. Once you reach the other side you realize it wasn't so scary after-all.