Gratitude to Old Teachers When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake, We place our feet where they have never been. We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy. Who is down there but our old teachers? Water that once could take no human weight— We were students then— holds up our feet, And goes on ahead of us for a mile. Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness. Robert Bly (1926 – 2021)
I did like this simple poem as Robert Bly is not always easy to fathom (excuse the pun).
The journey of life is like a walk across a frozen lake. And I remember as an eight-year-old testing a frozen pond with parts too thin to walk on. Our walk or life journey is unique, and we walk on the unwalked.
We have underneath support from others all our life. Sometimes completely unknown to us of course. And if we have a spiritual belief maybe we have some form of spiritual guidance. Robert Bly is saying the ice is thickest when we are young for it is at that stage that we need most support; not getting ourselves runover on the roads or in his poem not drowning. And indeed, maybe others prepare for our future stepping in the journey of life, whether a mile or greater distance.
The ‘all around us the stillness’ text does suggest that those that have provided support are no longer alive, or alive to us. And the title ‘Gratitude to Old Teachers’ would suggest the same. And we should be thankful to those that have helped keep us dry.
Something to consider – to what extent do we carry latent within ourselves the influence of others. And is there help when the ice is thin? And like the iceberg is memory all underneath until perhaps it is needed and comes to the surface.
And Teachers of course never retire.