The Greatest Teachers

There is a man who walks around town pulling a cart with coolers on it.  He mostly sells fresh made tortillas and tamales.  He is always laughing and smiling and seems to know most everyone in town as he chats with people, and they call out to him, “Yo Richie!” as he goes by.  Even in the intense heat of summer, he is always out, and always laughing and smiling.  Sometimes, all I see is his cart in the street, so I know he is somewhere nearby cooling down in some shade with something to drink.  Every time I see him, it makes me smile.  He is such a happy person that he seems to infect everyone around him with joy. 


And the most amazing thing… Richie is blind. 


A blind man sells food and knows how much money people have given him and how much change he gives back.  He knows who is calling out to him just by the sound of their voice.  And he is always happy, never down or distrustful because he is blind selling things out of a cooler he pulls along even in intense heat. 


People like Richie are my greatest teachers.  Although I certainly value wisdom and insights from anyone, it is people who have gone through challenges and come out the other side with something beautiful to offer; these are the people who humble me and touch my soul. 


Instead of being taken down by his challenges, Richie has lifted himself to a place higher than many people around who have so much less to overcome.  He reminds us that the greatest obstacles in life are very rarely the external ones, but rather the greatest obstacle is how we choose to respond to what life sends us.  It is our thoughts and spirit that either sets us up to be stopped by the obstacle or to grow from the experience and rise above and transform.  In rising above his perceived limitations, Richie lifts up everyone around him. 


I do not know how to actually spell Richie’s name, but I chose this spelling on purpose because truly RICHie is one of the richest people I have ever met.  He is so rich in spirit, heart, and mind that everyone around him benefits from the true wealth of his being.  He blesses everyone he comes in contact with, and even people like me who often just see him from afar and feel happy instantly.


May I strive to be like Richie, turning my obstacles into blessings for all.





Published in: on June 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm  Comments (28)  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

28 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. if more people would strive to be like Richie…what a wonder..full place this would be!!!Much love and respect to you,Butterfly!!!!

  2. The sighted are cursed with the obsession that some greater “potential” lies forever and forever beyond the limits of what they can see, let alone whatever they happen to hold in their hands.

    The sightless are blessed with realization that whatever they hold in their hands is eternally beyond the limits of what they can see, and always something greater than a pair of empty hands.

  3. Richie’s peace of mind is not impossible, not even difficult (in a sense) for anyone who has seriously devoted themselves to learning how to meditate.

    It took me years of struggle to learn, myself–too simply learn…how not to struggle.

    I spent years trying to force myself to sit still, close my eyes, breathe deeply and calm down; and for years I couldn’t sit still for 10 minutes without going insane.

    I can’t recall what changed, have no idea, but one day I sat with my eyes closed and could have stayed that way all day if I didn’t have any obligations.

    Now, I can sit still with my eyes closed, just breathe, and do nothing at all for as many hours as I please, even in noisy places, even outside on a snowy day in Montana in December (as long as I don’t sit directly in the snow for too long). I reflect. I discover myself in nearly infinite detail after 40 years of months of weeks of days of hours of minutes. I find definite answers to questions that have plagued and baffled me all my life about who I am, why I am, what I have, what I need and where I’m going.

    If I had fewer obligations I am pretty sure I could do this for days on end. I’m also pretty sure that, like so-called “primitive” people who lived in “brutal” ancient times with “short life spans”, my remaining years would seem nearly infinite. I suspect that people who lived closer to nature for a long, long, long time in hominid history, without wasting so much energy on so much arbitrary activity, felt very old and at peace with dying before they even reached what we call “midlife” today.

    I can’t prove it; but I thoroughly believe it.

  4. Julia, at some point in your journey.. you have to come to India..

  5. i know India is a powerful, beautiful, and heartbreaking place all in one. i have had many people tell me i need to go there.

    Maybe someday it will unfold in my journey.



  6. What would Richie do! ❤ great story Julia.

  7. Only a hard heart can break. What is Yours made of..??
    Blessings in return.. 🙂

  8. My heart breaks constantly. According to your definition that means i have a hard heart. According to other traditions and beliefs, it means caring and being open to hurt.

  9. oh young butterfly why do you marvel at others growth and not see your own are u displeased w/ something u have the ability to change it continue to see with your inner eye and know you recieve love from many afar places …:) hearts are like soil too soft or hard slows growth but must always be broken open to plant anything and often that seed must be sacrificed or allowed to die to change us =) sbv 2012-6

  10. Thanks for sharing this story Julia. I have found some wonderful lessons in my life and most of them have been from ordinary everyday folk doing extraordinary things. I would count you as one of them. I read your book about your story with Luna many many years ago and to this day I will be go out of my way to actually hug a tree because of my experience of reading it. Thank you again for sharing this inspiring story and for living such an inspirational life. It is a true gift to the world.

    Gratitude ❤ ❤ ❤

  11. About the hard heart thing, if you don’t feel like you are going to die some days either from the shame of having lots of regrets or the shame of wanting to hide from the the problems ahead that are inevitable…

    You might be taking trying to take it “safe” and trying not to offend anyone; but it’s a delusion that you are not contributing to the difficulties of others by playing it “safe”. It also means you are not following your passion in life, but are afraid.

    That’s what it truly means to be stuck between a rock and a hard place, Scylla and Charybdis, and have no life in between–just trying not to offend, on the one hand, and trying to defend yourself on the other.

    The problem is, that way of life is even more painful than exposing one’s self to the risk that what matters most to themselves doesn’t matter to anyone else, the very definition of “failure” according to those who see “success” in terms of making popular decisions.

    If your heart doesn’t really hurt sometimes, so much you can breathe, you really haven’t loved anything or anybody.

    If you’re not willing to get past it and let it happen again, and again, and again, and for all the days of your life, then I would argue that whatever religion you follow, it is meaningless.

  12. Julia, the reason I have followed your story for a long time from a great distance, both in terms of location and time, but also in terms of having a completely different set of priorities, is for no other reason than that you are brave.

    And by “brave” I mean “THIS…IS…SPARTA!”

    I might be sitting in a library somewhere, for example, feeling really down and insecure, really alone, depressed and confused, unsure of myself, worried about the future, and all I have to do is go on YouTube and watch this young, skinny, pretty, plain girl with her her undyed hair pulled back give a five minute lecture about what it means to be “fierce” when necessary, when it matters, when it is the highest expresssion of love, and when to check yourself for being just “mean” for no good reason.

    I see you being brave in the midst of people who are just mean, both in the sense that they do not care to love anything important, also in the sense that “mean” means minimum.

    I get up. I get hard. I get going.

    Diana herself just gave marching orders to a real live Spartan sitting in that library feeling sorry for himself, and who suddenly realizes with tremendous shame that he is sick of having no rank or power to change things.

    Sometimes when you write about how you don’t know whether the things you do and say are touching anyone and moving them to tackle problems in the world, I don’t really want to say “there, there Julia”–I want to say something a bit more “fierce”.

    Broken hearted? Broken but not conquered.

  13. Thinking about the poet, Hart Crane, the poem “Legend”, the words marching through my mind while I write these blog entries to you (and your friends). It’s like his ghost is screaming at me.

    The guy was a shaman, so supremely gifted with an achingly beautiful dream of what “was” and “what could be”, that everything he wrote was ecstatic. He loved the Idea (with a capital “I’) of an America to rival and outshine the greatest civilizations that ever dared to lay claim to the idea of beauty, excellence, conscience, innovation and enlightenment.

    Even those who couldn’t help but admire his immeasurable pathos considered him a “cautionary tale” for anyone who aspired to greatly to live up to his own vision. He was a walking trainwreck from the point of of even those who loved him, but occasionally couldn’t muster the patience to recall the lovely figure of him they carried in their minds to stave off the image standing in front of them: his wasted “potential”.

    Like Kafka’s cockroach, they sympathized with and humored him until the day finally came that all they could see in front of them was a giant cockroach. It was the day Hart Crane saw nothing himself but a giant cockroach. He, himself, was partial to the term “pariah”, because that image apealled to him more–of the unembraceable horror that paradoxically contains wisdom in the midst of so many glorified “profits” who wail about…nothing.

    He tried to escape, start all over from scratch, reinvent not only himself, but the entire world around him. He went to the Carribean with the dream of discovering a whole new paradise in the making, where he had not yet fallen, where he could be reborn, and, childlike, “yield himself to the genius of his age”, as Emerson would say. He would find greatness once again. He would recover.

    He tried. The story ends with him leaping off a ship into the Carribean on his way back to America. The fate of his “legend” is sealed for most, the inevitable conclusion that supports the inviolable argument that the life of Hart Crane was indeed, after all is said and done, and to the great relief of so many artists who never dared to embrace such “hubris”, a cautionary tale.

    He didn’t jump into the sea because he was disillusioned. He jumped into the sea because it was the only way to preserve the beauty and tragedy of what he knew awaited him on the shores of America, what he would feel when he saw New York, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the frontier, the declining Buffalo–that even a new and perfect paradise could never erase–that it was eternally real, eternally epic, both beyond and tragically beneath his expectations; but, like the old saying goes, you can’t go home again.

    …too many cockroaches to feed the rats in the Big Apple these days.

    Some of us aspire to become cockroaches. That’s love.

  14. To further clarify (for those who still don’t get the moral of the “cautionary tale”):

    Crane didn’t jump to end the “suffering”. He jumped to preserve the beauty–conquering the age old belief that “you can’t take it with you.”

    Those of us who have embraced that suffering and “insanity”, who have “recovered”, who can still acknowledge, however, the nagging uncertainty the follows, will forever hold our manhoods cheap.

  15. Race Cockroach Mahaffey, emboldened by a teenaged girl (with a less dubious monocre), sits atop the Statue of Liberty, ignoring the pleas of his timid supporters who beg him to “yield to compromise” and the curses of his furious detractors who demand he “return to sanity”.

    He shakes his fist and screams at the hovering helicopters, also dares any hijacker to “martyr” himself:

    “Have you no eyes to SEE?! This monument has withstood the ages and will forever stand!”

    Liberty and Justice is at stake the world over, after all (“you morons!”).

    Now THAT sounds promising….

    You give me the most insane, unreasonable and tragic, brilliant and best ideas.

    A story to tell Richie some time under a tree in the shade sometime, to bring us both to tears. Something so full of mirth, tenderness and abject folly, that the wiser man who pulls his cooler through town can’t stop laughing about it–shakes his head and thanks his lucky stars that he…can’t witness the “stars”.

    The townspeople laugh along with him, “hey Richie! What’s so funny?”

  16. Finally, online sources will suggest that Hart Crane went to Mexico in order to discover the New World (along with a lot of other things “they” say). His poems will appear on practically any website mistranslated as well.

    First rule of masterly scholarship: don’t “Google” things that are important. Stick to primary sources. Get a book (used), and recycle it later if you’re worried about the trees. At least someone took the time necessary to edit the book, versus slapping together something online to sell something else.

  17. However, if you simply must Google it, (if you happen to be marooned on an island somewhere, for example), enter “Hart Crane O Carib Isle”.

    …or don’t.

    I’m not a great teacher.

  18. 🙂

  19. Julia, We are kindred spirits! Your post mirrors exactly my feelings. I am glad I am not alone.

  20. good post, many thanks Julia – also, i just got your newest book of poems. many thanks for printing these and the explanations of when they were written.

  21. So glad you enjoyed the post and the book Steve! Thanks for letting me know!



  22. I weeped a river of ecstatic libations tears last night as i expierenced(ans inspierenced)this most inspirational and transformative blog and free audio series by Vanessa D. Fisher titeled Holy Irreverance:A Trilogy Series Exploring The Dark Side Of The Sacred.What a richly in -powering and lumiosly cathartic beauty way . May we all join hands and hearts together in the spirit in this ever evolving spiral of radical awakeness and becoming the most heroic full being integrated( ever integrating) embodiements of Love we can possibly be.The link info is below if you feel so cxalled . link info: ,Search for:Holy Irreverance: A Trilogy Seies Exploring The Dark Side Of The Sacred

  23. There are a few I
    Life affirming no
    matter what.
    Julia through Luna.
    Helen Keller through
    Ann Sullivan.
    The Legacy of Luna.
    The World I Live In.
    May all beings live
    Michael Round

  24. The things you write.. are very close to my heart. I hope you always find a reason to write.

    Thank you, Julia!

  25. Dearest, sweet Julia,

    Thank you again for these openhearted posts. Posts like this, and Details in the Minutiae -which, happily, you included in your awesome book of poetry- rock me to my core and remind me of the path I strive to tread.

    I am facing brain surgery soon. (No tumors or anything, just an in and out fix of something I have had since birth that, left untreated, could cause a fatal brain bleed). I am trying to walk this part of my path as humbly as I can and with absolute gratitude for those around me. Rather than styling my hair to hide where it will be shaved, I will shave my whole head and donate to Locks of Love. I am doing my best to mindfully live and appreciate each day, despite the weakness in my body that demands naps and forbids me from lifting more than 5 lbs. I celebrate the fact that right now, I am in no pain. The waiting is hard for me- I have never been patient- but I am thankful for the empty 46 days between now and my surgery that will hopefully teach me to embrace the journey. Every day is so so beautiful.

    Richie has it right. Walk the path with a smile on your face. Find joy- it is there for those who know how to see -even without eyes. Call out to your friends and find ways to be a blessing to them. Shine.

    Thank you, Julia, for introducing us to this wonderful man. Blessings to him and to you.

  26. Thanks Braid. Sending you healing thoughts and prayers.

  27. Thanks Priscila!

  28. Thank you Julia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: