2022 Writing Heights Conference

Mentors

I have been very fortunate to have great role models and great mentors in my life. 

I was very sad to hear of the passing of a mentor and former boss, Earlie Thomas. Earlie was an amazing man. I met him through a colleague when I started working for the county. This was right at the beginning of my adventure in Northern Colorado. Then one day the phone rang. It was Earlie. He had news. He had a vacancy, and he wanted to hire me. It is thanks to Earlie seeing something in me that made me leave my job at the county (I hadn't been there for very long) and make the move. Now 14 years later I am still working the job that Earlie recruited me for. I love my job. I love working at a university. Every day there is something new to learn. I love trying to figure out how to get to yes. 

Earlie had an amazing ability to see something special in people. He had a quiet dignity. I never saw him raise his voice. When he spoke, it was like the world stopped to listen. 

Here's a poem that I love. 

When Great Trees Fall - Maya Angelou

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.