“When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” — Lao Tzu
“A teacher is never a giver of truth; he is a guide, a pointer to the truth that each student must find for himself.” — Bruce Lee
I pretty much look for teachers everywhere and in everything.
Lately, I’ve really been pondering these verses:
And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.
I am extremely active-minded, a.k.a. easily distracted. I multitask and bounce from thing to idea to action. After reading articles about how multitasking is not efficient, I began trying to become single-task oriented with my long to-do list. I still find myself in the throes of busyness. And while taking time to pray and read the scriptures helps, I still often feel like I have to maintain a self-imposed frenetic pace.
This mindset has gotten me further along my spiritual and temporal journey, but now I’m ready to shift again. And the direction that keeps illuminating my thoughts is:
doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God.
I’ve known this commandment existed my whole life and tried to live it according to the various levels of my journey. What does it look like now? I asked the Lord to teach me how to better live this principle at this stage in my life.
When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Appears
Enter the teacher.
I’ve known this teacher for five years. He is obstinate, arrogant, hilarious, and adorable. He is high-maintenance and worth it. He’s our English bulldog, Stig.
I’ve recognized Stig’s tenacious single-mindedness before. But two experiences over the past two weeks have taught me the lesson about living with an eye single that I’d been seeking.
Stig Meets Paddle Board
Our friend Malia invited me and Stig to doggy playgroup hour at their homeowner association’s lagoon. Since Stig absolutely loves his skateboard, we wanted to see how he would react to a paddle board.
We arrived at a beach full of dogs—primarily large dogs. I let Stig off leash and he ran to meet them. They greeted him and they ran all over the beach together—until Stig, after running for a couple of minutes, looked onto the water and saw a boy on a paddle board.
Stig full stopped amidst the doggy chaos and watched that boy for several moments. He walked into the water, and apparently calculated the obstacle (Stig doesn’t like obstacles). He turned and ran with the dogs again.
Soon, the boy came to shore and turned his board upside down on the sand.
The dogs began their lap towards that side of the lagoon again. Instead of running the distance, Stig (who was somehow sort of in front) ran straight up on that upside down paddle board and stopped. The other dogs ran with him to the board and sniffed it, but had no desire to follow his lead. They jumped around him in the water.
And there stood Stig, like the king of the world from Titanic, until I could get to him and physically pull him off that boy’s board. Then he started his crying, chirping noises to let me know how he really felt. He wanted—no, needed—back on that board.
Malia grabbed a staff person and asked for a board for Stig.
A board appeared and Stig ran immediately onto it. The dogs came to him, asking him to play with them, and he paid absolutely no attention to them ever again.
And thus began Stig’s paddle-boarding adventure. He loved every second of it. He slid off the board three times, but that never scared him or diminished his desire to get back on. He barked orders about keeping our speed up when I slacked and let us just float while talking to someone nearby.
We meandered around the lagoon for 35-40 minutes and then our allotted time was up. Oh, he didn’t want to leave! As I rinsed him down, he could still see his board upside down on the beach. Once, both of my hands were off his body and he bolted for the beach. I caught him and held him back the rest of the time.
From the time he first stepped onto that upside down board, he never took his eye off his prize.
Second Time at the Lagoon
Yesterday, Anthony accompanied me and Stig to the lagoon. We asked for a board for Stig right away.
There weren’t as many dogs as the time before, but they all came to greet Stig while he waited on-leash for Malia’s family to arrive. Soon, he was off leash and ran to the dogs. He said hi to everyone, but then looked for a paddle board.
It soon appeared and he hopped right on. Anthony took him for a spin. I got a board and went to meet them. As I approached, Stig suddenly lunged from Anthony’s board to mine! He ran up to me on the board, turned around, and then jumped across to Anthony’s board. We laughed.
Another 10-year-old friend paddled close to us and Stig jumped to her board, too. So we began paddling close to each other and watching Stig run from board to board. It was hilarious.
Stig wanted to ride every paddle board, so he did.
Some dogs approached Stig in the water. He would look at them, but had was not dissuaded by them. We tried to get several other dogs onto our boards, but they preferred to swim in the lagoon.
So Stig floated around the lagoon on his several perches until the inevitable, heart-wrenching gotta-go-home time came. Anthony and I both held onto him during the rinse-off. Stig’s body was tensed and ready to bolt back to the boards at any opportunity.
The realization that Stig was my teacher hit me yesterday while we stood to the side, waiting for Malia’s arrival, watching the dogs and the lagoon.
Stig knew the place when we arrived. When we got in, he watched a kid paddling on the lagoon. He watched a man corralling his dog onto a board. The dog jumped off. Stig watched the dogs running around the beach. He greeted the dogs that came to see him.
But as soon as he had agency, Stig bolted to the beach and barked for a board. The other dogs swirled around, but he was not distracted. People came to talk to us, but he was not deterred. Board! Board! Board!
As soon as the paddle board hit the water, Stig captained it. Except for sliding off while jumping from board to board, Stig never came off the paddle board.
He didn’t grow tired or bored or discontented. We could tell he was physically spent and decided to go home. He absolutely disapproved of our decision. He would have stayed on the board forever.
My Eye Single Lesson?
Do I live intentionally? Do I have a specific goal? If not, why not?!
If I do have a specific goal, do I get distracted when other dogs clamor for my attention? Do I think, “Oh, I could just play with that doggy for a moment! I don’t want to be rude!” or do I balance my interactions with others and my intentional living as the Lord directs?
Do I recognize the tool(s) that enable me to reach my goals? Only one item at that lagoon brought Stig to his goal though many, many other good and fun things were present. None of the things, dogs or people, were bad things, but could have been distractions to what he really wanted.
But Stig is incapable of distraction. He is laser-focused on food. He is laser-focused on his skateboard. He is laser-focused on paddle boards.
He chooses to live with an eye single to his intentional life. He is the best teacher of how to live that way. I love him for that.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.