I think it’s an almost universal truth that we don’t appreciate our teachers enough – at least, not while we’re students. This is true in a lot of areas, but particularly in a practice like tea ceremony, where you spend so much time learning from a single teacher or (in the case of a branch school) a single group of teachers.
I was thinking about this lately in the context of taking lessons from my own sensei. When I was a student – or I should say, when was a beginning student – I didn’t have a sense of how much I didn’t know, or how lucky I was to have such experienced teachers. I find myself now wishing I’d asked more questions, taken better notes, and most of all, that I’d let myself be in the moment more.
I think the ultimate lesson that students learn, though, is that if you want to be a good student you have to move beyond just being a student and really practice. It’s only when you need to plan your own tea gathering, for example, or teach a class that the holes in your knowledge become obvious. And its only when that happens that you realize how important it is to always keep learning – and be a better student this time.