He is a brilliant physicist. So brilliant, in fact, that he convinced me that I didn't understand electron clouds. I did. But his explanation was so over my head that I was sure I had missed something.
He was kind, generous with his time and possessions, and loved nature. We were of different perspectives in other areas, to be sure, but we got along just fine.
However, something struck me when I came back to visit him a few years after graduation. Much like Part 2 of this series--I discovered a new dimension to my teacher, a new level of disconnect.
He looked up from behind his desk. "Oh, hey!" He greeted me warmly. "How are you doing?"
I rehearsed the last few years of my life: college, work, marriage...
He smiled. "See? You work hard. You went out there and got this for yourself. Good work!"
"I'm blessed," I countered. "I've really had some amazing opportunities and things handed to me."
He studied me. A sudden weight filled the air between us. "You've got to give yourself credit. You always work hard. Your success is due to your efforts. It's great to see how far you've come already."
"No," I replied, probably more sharply that I should have. "No, I didn't do this on my own. So many things were given to me. I am truly blessed to be where I am."
In my memory we went around a few more times, neither conceding the other's view. I didn't feel like I had really earned anything. No. My friends, my house, my wife, my position, my stuff... all of it had been a gift, an opportunity, a blessing wholly apart from me. I had been there. But I was the beneficiary, not the originator.
That was the first time I was really aware of a clash of worldviews.
Part 4 is available.
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father