- Author: Lowell Cooper
The other day I was having lunch with an acquaintance who is a rose grower and a rose scholar. I asked him a relatively naïve question about fertilizers and he started on a very detail and succinct mini-lecture which was very convincing. And it was also very appreciated by me. It struck me as I was listening that I couldn't have been more satisfied if I were at a Yo Yo Ma concert. It is a wonderful thing to be in the presence of expertise – especially when it is in an area that I know something about and like a lot.
I also had a sad experience recently of losing a youngish old friend to a sudden heart attack. He was a fly fisherman extraordinaire. He had developed many limiting physical symptoms as he aged that made walking in rivers comfortably very difficult and he was discouraged about continuing with this passion. He had been one of my earliest teachers, so I encouraged him to stick with it and kept hoping he would be restored. Actually, whenever we did fish together it was always remarkable to me how he came ‘alive'. It was quite magical. No complaints, almost balletic how he found the resources inside himself to do what needed doing to catch fish. And he did. As with rose growing, it was almost a religious experience to be with him and watch him beckon the fish to his line. And sometimes I would even learn a new thing or two; an extra pleasure.
I have other examples of an audience with expertise. It is always quite special. Outside of the charming arena, these people are just ordinary. But when I have happened to trip into their world, something happens. It almost catches me by surprise because these kinds of people don't necessarily know of their specialness and just how good they are at what they do. I myself am a card-carrying senior citizen, and I am always pleased to find myself on such hallowed ground with someone always my junior.
I really don't have more to say about this experience without getting almost spiritual or philosophical. But it is very real and concrete. Is it familiar to you also? The hardest part of the experience is finding the rich territory and the person who shares it.