The Ready Room: Experiences

Take a moment and consider yourself.  What things are you good at?  Now, consider the things that other people think and say you are good at.

Whether or not these sets of personal skills are the same (those you identify and those that others identify in you), I am convinced that these kinds of readiness skills in each of us have a story.  In my professional work both as a minister and as a teacher, I have had experiences that took  me by surprise.  There were certainly skills and knowledge that I prepared myself with through education, internships and practicums.  There were things I learned to do through practice in both fields.  And then, there were things that I had not anticipated, most often very difficult, catch-me-by-surprise, no-training-covered-this kinds of experiences, the kind that I would never sign up for or wish for, for myself or others.

These experiences were most often heart-wrenching, confusing to say the least, and deeply disturbing.  These were the experiences that changed me profoundly and “readied me” for more experiences like them.  They also readied me for experiences unlike them is some mysterious way.

This is my theory on such deeply disturbing, unexpected experiences.  When something happens to us that takes us well beyond what we know, what we can control and can think our way out of, it has the potential for taking us to a new way of seeing, hearing, being, feeling.  To be completely honest, such an experience can also break us –with a breaking that we find it hard to return from.  Such experiences leave us “readied” for more of life.  In my experiences, they leave me more tender than before, and since I’ve always been sort of tenderhearted, there are times when I wonder if I can stand to be any more tenderized. Maybe the next level will just simply break me.

And maybe not.  What I trust, now, after many years, is that life’s hardest experiences which I would never choose are those that leave me most ready for more of life.

Is that your experience?  What stories do you have about what you are “readied” for?

Bob Patrick

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