On Mentorship

Simply stated, although it’s not really simple at all, my job is to transmit to you all the memories I have within me. Memories of the past.”
Lois Lowry, The Giver

A couple of night ago, S and I were invited by a couple to come over for dinner. 

For their honeymoon back in the early 80s, they had taken a nine-week US tour, living out of their car and having the experience of a lifetime.   They wanted to tell us about their travels, their memories, and their advice about places they had been.

So we show up, excited, expectant, and for several hours, we sat, spellbound, listening.

Is wasn’t just that they were telling us facts about their trip.  They were reliving it,  breathing life into those precious memories.  You could see it in their eyes.  I found myself wishing I could actually climb inside their brains and be able in vivid detail exactly what they were seeing.

There was more going on here than I realized.  That would be Seth and I, trying to explain the things we’ve seen and heard and experienced, the way the light looked in Seattle or the smell of boiled peanuts down south.  But it’s more–it’s a precious gift that is shared between travellers, a knowing, a connecting of hearts through shared experience.  That’s what we saw in our friends’ faces as they added on to each other’s stories.  A deep, knowing, tested connection.  This wasn’t just a trip for them.  It was a journey into marriage between two crazy, young kids with nothing to lose, that knit their hearts together.  They saw themselves in us, and they poured into us that night.

Mentorship is a rare thing these days.  There seems to be little to no connection between the younger and older generations.  Mentorship is a deliberate act of passing down memory, advice, experiences, thoughts: some of the most important gifts we’ve been given.  Mentorship is some of the most important work we’ll ever do and receive.

S and I left feeling like we had been invested in, in so much more of a beautiful and sacred way than financially.  We have the wide, open road ahead of us–jungles, lakes, rivers, cities, and sleepy towns to explore.  I feel that much more prepared knowing that there are those before us who have carved out their own paths, and that, very soon, we’ll be able to make our own mark in the Great Unknown.

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