I am one of those students, full of questions, yet asking only 2 out of 15. My professors are the type who walk in the classroom and start lecturing, without notes, with maps for props, and give me the history of the world from the seemingly infinite recesses of their minds. They remember small anecdotes pertaining to certain events, they make me laugh, and every day I walk out of their class smarter than when I walked in. You can ask them about books on a certain topic on a certain century and they fire back with a dozen titles, academic and historical and beneficial, while the only historical fiction I read would be, say, Asterix. They are on a pedestal, having achieved the type of glorious knowledge and scholarliness that seems forever out of my grasp. It is hard to believe they are human.
Yet sometimes, when we happen to be walking outside together, when the wind blows their hair, when the all-imposing powerpoint is removed, when the notebook is shut and the discussion panders to weather and time constraints, it’s almost a jolt of realization. Hey, they’re human. They don’t move around campus asking philosophical questions, or wander in parks in Londonesque trench coats, lost in the Renaissance. And you know what? It frightens me. Because when we both are human, I am more aware of the vast amount of knowledge they possess that I don’t, that I sometimes fear I never will. Their ability to see the past, present, and future, all in one go, while I frantically memorize dates and events and hope that’s enough. When we both are human, I am keenly aware of the amount of time, work, and effort one needs to understand even an iota of the past. I am confronted with the fact that I am nothing in the grand scale of things, that despite my bravado and sense of accomplishment, I’m nowhere near done.
I prefer them on pedestals.