A Letter to My Favorite Professor
(When I asked today’s guest blogger Casey Ryan to give me a one sentence bio, he emailed over:
Casey Ryan is the creator and host of the Cutting Room Floor – a talk-radio podcast that seeks to promote and showcase indie entertainers of all types. And I’m going to add a sentence of my own: He’s got the raw talent to host a nationally syndicated talk show.)
I never got the chance to thank you the way that I hoped I would or more appropriately should have. Back in the fall of 1993, I was a rail-thin, overly anxious 18 year-old trying to conquer a full course load of Physics, Chemistry, and Calculus at John Abbott College.
One of my last classes of that first week at “JAC” was Magic, Religion, and Science – a Humanities course that had you (Steven Spielberg’s doppelganger from the Bronx) as it’s ringmaster. You sat down at your desk, rolled your eyes in derision at the sight of my Physics tome, and addressing the whole room, barked those first unforgettable words that still resonate with me all these years later: “Everything you know…….is WRONG!”
What followed was a stream of free-flowing consciousness unlike anything I’d ever heard before or since. The blood returned to my ashen face and I laughed harder than I had in years. There was something completely different in my academic diet now – something I could actually enjoy. Thanks to you, I can honestly say that I was tested on my knowledge of Differential Equations and Tarot cards in the same afternoon.
For a brief time, you became an ally and mentor – imparting on me 2 special gifts at a time in my life when I needed them most.
The first was the ability to laugh at myself. We all have our quirks and you taught me that quite often these things shouldn’t be shamed or hidden but, celebrated as signs of individuality. In essence, you gave me my first glimpse of the importance of being “indie”. You not only challenged your students philosophically but, demanded to be challenged in return.
The second gift was that learning about something for the pure, uncut, unfiltered, un-fornicated-with “fun of it all” was one of the great joys in life. I came way too close to losing complete sight of that during my first year in college.
When you passed away last year at 62, I was heartbroken and my sympathies continue to go out to your family. I offer up this short note in thanks, in memory, and in the hope that those reading it will recognize the significance of teachers like you and allow themselves to be inspired by the inspired.
With great respect,
Casey J. Ryan
“In, Gabe Berman shares his recipe for living a more joyful,worthwhile, and abundant life in every way. A witty, entertaining, and insightful read.” ~Deepak Chopra