Hello John, Stephen, Maryanne, et al.,
Maryanne, as usual I loved reading your views on the topic.
You write, ” I am wondering how similar the mentor and one who is mentored might be at the get-go, from the very start and how often you know of stories in which they seemed opposites at first or to have some opposing qualities and then later find similarities.”
Your question, “how often you know of stories in which they seemed opposites at first or to have some opposing qualities and then later find similarities.” resonated with me, and I’ll have to tell a personal story about myself and my in-person mentor, my Uncle, to explore opposing qualities. Even in opposing qualities, a story is told.
Story: My Uncle Athur, my mentor, was an Indian Air Force Officer/Pilot from 1940 – late. 1970s. He chose not to leave India at the time of the Partition, in 1947, and settled in a lovely area in Hyderabad, which is near Bangalore, India.
My father, Safdar, (Athur’s brother) was a Junior Railway Officer in the Indian Railways of 1940s, a few years before I was born, but at the time of the partition, he chose to leave Indian Railways, and was promptly transferred to the Pakistan Railways. He became a Signals Officer in the Pakistan Railways of the 50s. His job involved tracking signals, and railway lines under scorching sun, sometimes in a trolley. The salary of the Railway Officers in a new country was just pittance. Therefore, there were a few perks in the way of two small private saloons, which are a home on wheels that go wherever the Railway lines go. One Saloon for the narrow-gauge and one for broad-gauge, both for my father’s exclusive use. Employees were also given a house, which is where my Uncle visited us.
It was his (mentor – Uncle’s) habit to set his suit case, and a few pieces of clothing in one section of the house where they were well-guarded and safe. I was about 12 years old then, and spotted a very elegant perfume bottle among his belongings, and I took it upon myself to dab a little one morning, before heading out to school. At school, I was met with lovely flattering compliments, “how lovely you smell”, “where did you get this scent?” “Oh can you get us some?” Oh the compliments kept coming. Encouraged by the compliments, I made it my morning ritual to dab a bit the entire week. Mind you, all without my mentor’s knowledge and consent.
One day when I returned from school, my mentor-Uncle had flown back to India, and my mother presented me with that beautiful (still ¾ full) perfume bottle, saying, your Uncle left this for you. He had not said a word about my clandestine activities. Relieved I took the bottle and used it well. Never had a chance to thank him, really.
The reason for this story is that Maryanne’s question, “how often you know of stories in which they seemed opposites at first or to have some opposing qualities and then later find similarities.” lit a light bulb in my brain. That my in-person mentor and I were opposites. He was a very ethical, noble, kind and caring man, and I a younger 12 year old, had neither ethics, nor care, nor nobility in my heart.
On discussing this with Maryanne, last night, she brought in the idea of the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone, and James Hillman’s, senex and puer.