Posted on 18 Jun 2010 in Imagine | 0 comments

Someone I care about is dying.
And I simply don’t want to imagine a world without him.
In life, we sometimes gain extra ‘family’ members along the way. Bob was this kind of a man to me. He was a spiritual and intellectual ‘father’ who helped me navigate my way to completion of my degree. He is compassionate, highly ethical, funny, gregarious, wise, challenging, and joyful. Really one of those rare gems who make the world a more wonderful place simply by existing.
I was never a true ‘academic.’ I made solid grades through high-school, but when I arrived at college, I found the whole process a bit rubbish, so dropped out. After working my way to a corporate job that paid more than I ever expected to make, I decided to try my hand again at a degree. I completely tanked. At community college. I have more withdrawals from classes than most people I know. But I loved philosophy. So when it came time to buckle down, I knew that I would most likely pursue that. It forced me to think, to be aware of myself and the world around me. So I applied at a school and went to a prospective students’ weekend. And I heard this man give a chat about ethics. I say ‘chat’ because he is the kind of person who thoroughly engages you in the discussion, even if he’s disseminating exponentially more information than you are. But he’s also approachable. He is like your favourite uncle that you love to sit with and learn more about the great, big, wide world.
For the first time, I felt like I could do this. When I arrived to college and learned that he would be my advisor, I knew that it would be a special two years. And it was. He took all the courses that I was most afraid of and concerned about and turned them into possibilities. He took the subjects that I loved and helped them to sing. And he helped me develop independent study courses and private tutorials for those subjects that I wanted to study but weren’t offered at our small school. And he invested in this strange young woman, a non-traditional student who at 25 years of age was the oldest full-time student. Who with every breath felt more and more awkward. Who didn’t know if she had what it took to finish this. Who doubted every choice she made.
And he believed in me. He trusted me to make wise choices and supported me to see them through.
I still remember a tutorial I had with him in my senior year. We were rounding out a number of ‘required’ courses, and we had developed a ‘bridge course’ to connect philosophy to my music studies – Aesthetics.
Bob brought my academic mind to life in that course. He showed me how research allows you to learn about the things that you are passionate about. He showed me how to use research principles to discover new authors and how to scour footnotes and bibliographies for more places to read. And he taught me how to apply all of those things to whatever subject interested me.
My final project was on how Haute Cuisine was the purest, most perfect expression of true art. And I still believe that to this day.
I had many other teachers and supporters and encouragers. And I love them all.
But Bob has a special place in my heart for helping me through one of the most challenging times of my life and giving my soul its light, its spark, and its desire to sing. Here I am, two Masters degrees later, in the midst of researching my PhD, and I still remember all the things he taught me.
And I wouldn’t be here today without him.
And I don’t want to imagine a world without him in it. So I’m going to forget for a little while that my dear friend is dying. I’m going to remember the world that he created in my life.
And when I’ve finished my PhD, I think I’ll dedicate it to him.
And while you’re at it, buy everything he’s ever written and read it. His field is ethics and he’s brilliant.