“Teaching is only demonstrating that it is possible. Learning is making it possible for yourself.”
– Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage
This was one of those passages that stopped me in my tracks, just last night, as I lay in bed reading a few pages of my latest Paulo Coelho dose. The Pilgrimage is the predecessor to Coelho’s most acclaimed bestseller, The Alchemist, and is an autobiographical account of his journey by foot through southern France and Spain, a path called the Road to Santiago. The geographical details of the journey aren’t the point. It is the learning of the journey that Coelho so beautifully illuminates in his storytelling.
So the question is, how is each of us both a teacher and a learner?
Each of our lives tells the story of what we demonstrate to be possible. In other words, each of us is a teacher. What we demonstrate through the way we live – whether or not we try – is teaching.
Each of us is also a learner. What we make possible in each decision, each change, each effort – this is learning, and it also becomes part of what we teach.
This suggests that teaching is a constant part of our being, whether it is conscious or unconscious. Each of us is a living example of what is possible, and we teach (or influence) every person that we come into contact with.
But learning is active. In order to make something possible for ourselves, we have to believe in that something, and then believe in ourselves in order to make it happen. To learn what we wish to learn – not just what we are taught – is a constant active process of believing in greater possibilities for ourselves.
I’m going to spend the rest of today pondering Paulo Coelho’s words. They are powerful. I know this when I say the words to myself again and again in my head, and consider the questions: what am I demonstrating to be possible? what am I making possible for myself?
Wishing you a day of both teaching and learning.