Writing on Purpose: Writing Mentor

My Imagined Mentor

I can’t say I have had a mentor any time in my life but I have had a lot of teachers. The saying “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” has been a constant in my life. I have always been guided towards places, people and inanimate objects to collect my lesson for the moment or to be inspired to be creative. I may not have thought these to be helpful at the time, but the lesson was always there. I would refer to some of these to have come in the form of tough love. A quick scan of my life’s outstanding moments assures me that I have learned my lessons well when the time was ripe for teaching.

The teachers have come in many forms. Some were in the form of actual people for good or for bad slipping in and out of my life. They were there to inspire me, to hurt me, to love me, to ultimately teach me something that would bring me to the person I am meant to be. Sometimes, books would literally appear with a title that held a message, or the content to enrich me with knowledge with many “aha” moments. Many times, it was my own gut feeling. Yes, indeed me. It is what we sometimes refer to as our intuition, higher self, or God-self. If we stay silent long enough we can here it whisper the answers to this test we call life.

The mentor I imagine always sits in a winged paisley upholstered chair in his brightly lit room with a view of his garden peppered with flowers like a typical English garden. The sweet aroma from his preferred tobacco burning in his pipe meets me at the front door after it swings open by his cheerful wife with rosy cheeks and favourite red lipstick on her full lips. The years have been kind. If my sense of smell is correct, there is an unmistakable fragrance of banana bread with, perhaps, chocolate chips, but certainly that soupçon of cinnamon is quite evident. He has been busy in the kitchen because her playground of choice is her English garden.

The warm greeting ritual complete, I make my way to his study. It’s my favourite room. Warm oak carefully and lovingly holds all of his books collected over the near century, and there it is. The ladder on rails. It is immediately behind him indicating he was up there not too long ago. He is very particular where the ladder is kept when not in use. He is never too far away from a book. Reviewing something old or indulging in something very new, a book is either tucked into his vest pocket if small enough, squeezed under his armpit or lying next to his chair on the mahogany side table with an original Tiffany lamp.

We sit and talk a while about what my creative process was like this past month, and then he will tell me why young people are not reading enough! It’s always the same story. I indulge him as I always do, and then we get down to business. We are temporarily interrupted by the sound of fine china on a tray with banana bread slices for our pleasure! She gives me a wink and her usual big smile because for her this is her precious time to sit and read in the garden she grew.

He tries to balance his eye glasses on the bridge of his nose, just on that perfect spot that makes everything appear crystal clear and very large. He looks at my work and then raises his eyes over his lenses. I can’t make out what he may be thinking. I sit silently while he continues to scan the pages with an occasional glance in my direction. He drops the papers in his lap, then reaches for his cup of tea lovingly prepared just the way he likes it and grabs a piece of his banana bread. He motions with his head for me to do the same.

After a few moments of hearing the slurping of tea and the quiet chewing of cake, he begins to share with me some of the most beautiful times in his life. As is his usual way, he tells me many stories that I have heard before but don’t mind hearing again. I'm not sure if he remembers telling them to me over and over again, but the point is that with every re-telling I learn a little bit more about him and a lot more about me.