One of my passions is (attempting) to write creatively. I thought I’d include the following as a passion blog post, which I’ve been revising since the fall after I wrote it as an assignment for another class. Being a freshman means discovering new things you enjoy, here’s an example of something new that I came to love. Please let me know what you think.
The door swings open with its usual screech. But the man that enters our mostly-full classroom isn’t the grey-haired, fierce-looking professor we’re used to. He’s extra pale today, and maybe that’s just because of the colored buttons on his blazer sleeve, but it’s still more noticeable than usual.
I’m still staring at the buttons, artificial-looking colors, a light blue, pink, green, like children’s balloons, when he speaks.
“Well unfortunately, today’s class is my last of the semester.”
There’s no reaction from us. There usually isn’t, except for when we laugh at his infrequent jokes. It’s always more of a nervous laugh anyway. We find him intimidating.
It’s weird, I think, to have such colorful buttons on such a professional piece of clothing.
“Those calls I stepped out for the other day were from the doctor’s office. It turns out I’m rather ill, and it’s fairly serious.”
No gasps, just breathing. The buttons shake in front of his face as he brushes back his hair.
“So, Dr. Brad Erickson will be taking over for me at the end of this week. I’ll still be grading your term papers, but he’ll be teaching the class.”
He speaks in his normal lecturing tone—measured and stern. Sometimes I wish I knew what to say in situations like these.
He coughs. It’s deep and catches something inside his lungs, and I shiver as he tries to suppress it.
“But, on the last day of this class,” he recovers, “I usually like to have an overall discussion, hear about your interpretations of what we’ve learned.”
A couple nods. The buttons are gleaming now in the harsh projector light that has just turned on above him. The coat occupies the background of his shape.
“So the rest of the story goes like this.”
He unloads—from the point where we left off last class through Julius Caesar and crowning of Augustus as Emperor. It flows out of him like easy conversation, he doesn’t have to stop and think.
When he’s done, he turns the floor over to us. The talkers in the class speak first, as always. He listens patiently, commenting here and there, and starts to move around a bit. The buttons are a blur as he begins to wave his hands as he did before.
Then the others, timid but sensing higher stakes, offer their own interpretation. He eats this up, even cracking a slight grin at a particularly bad mistake. More information comes out of him, the conversation progresses, he’s visibly excited.
We’re just talking and it’s easy. The color he is exuding matches the shades on his sleeves, and we’re joining in with him, joining in with the gradual crescendo of passion that we can hear in his voice. He rises with it—standing taller he eggs us on, forcing us to go deeper.
We’ve seen him transform like a phoenix from the ashes. The sallow, rigid man that passed through the doorway a half hour ago is now shimmering with light as he corrects us on the Gracchi’s true motives and why Caesar decided to cross the Rubicon. He is in complete control, but is surrendering that control at the same time. The work, for him, is truly play.
And we all realize now why apathy is the real danger. That we can’t exist without that one thing that pulls us from the dark and forces us to the far-flung corners of the earth, to the early morning hours filled with work, to shining moments of pure mastery and fire like the one that is burning in front of us now. This man’s color is more than just the buttons on his sleeve. Where there is this type of love, there is always life.
It ends at 11:20, like every day. The conversation ends more abruptly than it began, and we shuffle out silently. But when I take what I am convinced is my last glimpse of him, I notice the smirk on his face, interrupted by a wince.