The other day I was walking with a former mentee of mine when she handed me a small lime green envelope with my name written on the front,
“Here, that’s for you” she said before continuing her conversation and tossing her hair with her fingertips as we walked.
Later that afternoon I finally had an opportunity to open it. Inside was a card with a handwritten message inside thanking me for “sticking” with her and for our friendship. I cried, of course, but what got me most was how much I learned from her. That card really should have been from me to her.
It is no surprise to me that I feel that way. I have mentored several people over my incarceration (and not all of them were other prisoners) and I have grown as a person from each and every one. This same sentiment is shared by almost every other real mentor I have ever spoken to.
The kind of mentorship I provide is whole life. Mind, body and spirit. I believe that these things go together and that without them it is very difficult to know, let alone understand, your life’s direction. I am not going to tell anyone what kind of job they should do or give them dating advice, I’m not a therapist, I’m a humanist. This kind of work is one of life’s hidden secrets.
When you’re good at something it is a good thing to share it with others. Not so they mimic you but so they can choose to apply it to their lives when and if they want. In that process you gain a friend, an intimate friend at that. You get to watch, not in pride but in awe of, as someone gains independence and autonomy. You learn the art of love and what it means to accept someone for their strengths AND weaknesses, not just tolerate or seek to change them. It helps to come to the realization that we all have weaknesses and that’s why friends are important, where you fall short another is doesn’t. That’s the beauty in humanity, we need one another.
As a mentor you get humbled by witnessing another person find their personal value, learning how one adds to life. In the process you become enriched.
When, and if, I am in a position of community leadership I will only promote leaders who have been willing to mentor. The richness of their wisdom can only come from watching life spring from somewhere that others believe is lifeless, like prisoners or the marginalized. It’s more than fulfilling, it’s life sustaining.
If you feel that something is missing, that you need some…thing. Let me know. I could use a mentor. You don’t need to be anything other than willing.
Feel free to contact me, a little human contact is always welcome
Ruth Utnage fka jeff 823469 C-601-2
PO Box 888
Monroe, WA. 98272
or via Jpay email service (you have to use my birth name, but, please do not call me by it, my new legal name is Ruth)