***Warning: This post will be a bit sappy, and maybe a bit sad. Skip it if you like.
On Wednesday December 30 2015 the world lost some of its light. There was a man name Wendell, he was a teacher, a mentor, and one of the kindest souls I have ever met.
Wendell spent some of his teaching career at Kingston High School, in Kingston NY. There he taught english, mythology, and theatre among other things. This was my high school. He was my teacher.
Mr. Scherer, as I knew him then, was a man who was passionate about stories. But not in the way that most people just consume them, he was a genuine lover of the art. When some people roll their eyes a the idea of tropes or stereotypes, he would seek to find the deeper reason why these elements were used. In his mythology class I learned so much about the Cambellian heroic journey and how that applied to not just the classics, but everything. He showed us episodes of television shows, and then we had a passionate discussion about the themes used and how they related to the cycle of greek storytelling. He was simply amazing.
Wendell was so brilliant, kind, caring, and warm that I am not sure this world was really deserving of him. Every single word that came from him was heartfelt, and with even the slightest gesture he would encourage everyone around him to explore, create, invent, live, and love. Even the students who felt the shocking smack of a chalkboard eraser when they were sleeping or distracted knew that Wendell did not attack them out of spite or a need to control the room, but it was out of love. It was out of his pure joy in opening the eyes of the young to the beauty that surrounds us, even in the darkest of places.
My greatest regret is that I never saw Wendell again. That I never got a chance to be in his presence after leaving Kingston New York. Never got to hear his warm words of encouragement.
On the very morning when I heard of his passing, I was thinking about contacting him. Maybe sending him an early copy of my last book, just to give more back to this man who gave me so much. Like I often do, I heard his voice talking to me about themes in the story as I edited the last few pages of the manuscript.
Alas, I was too late.
His voice will ever be with me, however. I will always remember his warm words which stirred me to share the dreams rattling around in my soul. I endeavor to always listen the whispering memory of his wisdom.
Godspeed, old mentor. We will keep that promethean fire burning, as long as we are able.
Now, I leave you with a speech he gave to the graduating class of 2009 as an example of his brilliance and passion. It is about 8 minutes long, so make sure you have time to listen.