The art of apprenticeship

From Old French, apprendre- to learn, apprenticing as an act of reverence to life and our journey across its unexpected contours evokes much needed humility.

In medieval times, all craftspeople started as apprentices, bound to a master for at least seven years. After this time, they became journeymen, able to charge their own fee, still far from mastery.

When we hold this context for the trajectory of our work and life, we find ourselves at the beginning many times, whether we like it or not. Many of us stay safe and secure on our well-trodden paths, scared of stepping into the new. But life has a way of ejecting us from our comfortable path, hurtling us with little dignity onto a new path. This can be through the loss of work, a failed business, the breakdown of a relationship, the arrival of illness, or simply a deep calling to something else as an expression of our work.

When we find ourselves at the beginning, we also find a new master. That master may be a marriage, a new craft, a new role, a new identity. Bringing the full embodied archetype of the apprentice to the feet of the master will allow learning to be received with grace and a deep acceptance.

We learn how to be ill and reliant on others, or how to be a partner in a new relationship, or how to be the leader of a new company. With our acceptance of apprenticeship, we bow in humility to the depths of our not knowing. Simultaneously, we bring all the many and varied nuances of our previous experience and skill to bear.

No matter what our stage of life, apprenticeship will be present.

February 25th 2020

Photo taken 19th February 2017