I believe that many of the people who come into our lives come bearing valuable lessons, if we are just open to them. Some of the lessons are beautiful and some are painful, but they all move us forward on our paths.
One of these "teachers" in my life came in the most surprising package. EJ was one of my study partners my first year of law school. He is one of the crudest, crassest people I have ever met. He also is a master at developing mnemonic devices. Unfortunately, most of his involved terms for acts of sexual depravity such as I had never imagined. He would tell us the mnemonic device, then have to explain one or more terms used in it, then wait patiently while we stammered, "But...but...but why in the world would someone want to do THAT to another human being?"
At my law school, there was a food drive each semester. To support the drive, most of the professors agreed not to call on any student who brought two cans of food to class. So on one particular such day, I sat waiting for class to start with two dusty cans of green beans from the back of my pantry sitting there on my desk. EJ walked in and said, "Sweetie Pie, what in the hell are you doing, bringing dusty green beans for the food drive? Don't you know these are families--CHILDREN--who do not have enough to eat? They don't need your dusty green beans! They need protein for their growing brains and bodies!" Even though he was on a law student's budget, he proudly carried cans of tuna as his donation to the drive.
I was shocked. And ashamed. I knew he was right. I had just never thought about who was on the other end of my donation. But I have thought about it a lot since. And I am proud to say that I have never again donated dusty cans of green beans or dented cans of corn to a food drive. No, I usually donate either tuna or peanut butter. Or sometimes both. It's a lot more expensive but gosh, it feels good. So EJ, wherever you are, thank you for that valuable lesson. I have forgotten most of the vulgar terms you taught me but I have not forgotten the Lesson of the Dusty Green Beans.