I love being a student.
I love soaking up whatever a teacher may have to pass on to me.
I love opening my mind, my perspective.
So when I woke up four months ago to a post calling for elephant journal apprentices, I felt a little spark. In the spirit of allowing my writing life to flourish in 2014, I pulled together my resume and cover letter and hit send.
I really had no idea what being an apprentice would entail, but I was trying to say “Yes” more often than not.
I had no idea how my days might change.
I had no idea of all that I would learn.
I just had no idea what would happen when I hit send.
Here are the top 10 gifts I received from being, what we call, an ele-apprentice:
1. I know what an oxford comma is and that we don’t use them on elephant journal.
2. I learned how important it is to find photos that pique a reader’s interest and to give appropriate credit to the photographer (and to put that info in the media library for others to use).
3. I learned how to use the Facebook scheduler to schedule posts hours or days in advance. Very handy.
4. I learned to read closely—for content and meaning, then for rhythm and flow, and finally for grammar, punctuation and spelling.
5. I learned how to edit without losing the writer’s voice.
6. I learned to scour my life and the internet for topics to blog about, keeping a notebook of running ideas, making me more attentive to my life and to the world around me.
7. I found courage to send my words out into the world, words that were normally stashed in the many pages of my many notebooks.
8. I learned that the number of views a piece received was important to me, almost too important and that I need to stay mindful in order to not get sucked into that black hole of allowing my worth as a writer be dictated by numbers.
9. I learned how generous people can be, whether it was my apprentice peers, graduated apprentices, elephant journal editors and founder or the readers. I was overwhelmed with the time and attention devoted to the writing and editing of stories designed to spread a mindful message about being of benefit out into the world.
10. I learned that trying to be of benefit takes me out of the tiny cramped space of my mind, connecting me beyond the confines of my own little life into the space of a big, complicated, beautiful, messy, wonderful world.
Actually, I guess there are 11 gifts because all of this—this whole lovely community—has been brought together by words.
By people brave enough to put their stories into words and then sharing those words with the world.
Words that let us know we are not alone in our aloneness.
Words that teach us how to live in a world that is often chaotic and frightening.
Words that open our minds.
Words that touch our hearts.
Words that spark something in our souls.
That has been the greatest gift of this apprenticeship.
The evidence that words matter.
Our words matter.
Writing them is a gift to ourselves.
Sharing them is a gift to the world
A gift that the world desperately needs.
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”
~ Philip Pullman
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo Credit: Brian Snelson via Flickr