I have always wanted a mentor. Someone to show me the ropes of life and teach me how to be in the world. Unfortunately, I have not had many individuals that have filled this role. Part of this has been because I am a bit of a reserved type and many times you have to go out and pursue a mentor. My social hesitancy has resulted in a different kind of mentorship pursuit, I have found my mentors in books.
One such mentor is Wendell Berry. Berry is an essayist, poet and novelist. He is best known for his novels about a small agricultural community in a fictional town called Port William. I am not a farmer nor do I have rural roots. Yet, Berry talks about a way of caring for the earth and others that is intentional, long-suffering, and focused on preservation of natural resources and human relationship. I like his writing very much. It is slow, thoughtful, and takes the perspective that things and relationships of value take time and careful tending.
Reading Wendell Berry changed my life. His books made me realize that individualistic and “get mine” sensibilities in parts of our society are not the only way to live life. In his writings I have come to believe that the measure of a good life is a life characterized by simplicity, preservation of the earth, and deep lasting relationships. In a collection of his essays titled, The Long-Legged House, he writes that the beginning of a good citizen of earth starts at home. As I understand this thinking Berry is saying, “Changing the world begins by having a home and relationships that reflects the kind of world you are trying to bring about.”
I do want to change the world. In particular I have set my life’s work as helping couples have intentional, deep, and lasting relationships. Yet, if I cannot have the same kind of vibrant relationships with my own partner and children then am I really changing the world? If I cannot do at home what I am practicing at work then I’ve completely missed the point. I by no means have perfect relationships but every decision I make in life is meant to enhance my relationship with my partner and children. This is my first work, my first act to revolutionize humanity, and in doing so, I believe, along with my mentor Wendell that the world will never be the same.