Memories of Awe Episode 15

One thing that Liz wondered about in the traits of individuals that created awe memories for Professor McKown was how they differed from others he had taught. She wondered, if we can seek out every day awe can’t we also see it in everyday people? Or, does it come from just those who are gifted?

LJ: You mentioned in our last interview how blessed you were from being in the company of extraordinary students. What about the ordinary students, the ones who live their lives responsibly but not spectacularly?

KMcK: Great question, and one that I’ve thought a lot about. Let me share with you one of those stories. He asked us to call him Spiegy. His real name was Charles, but his mother always said he came from the Spiegel catalog.

LJ: I’m fascinated already. Tell me more.

KMcK:  Spiegy was on campus during the hippie era, but we had few counter-culture students in our program. He had long hair, wore tie-dyed shirts, and fashioned his own jewelry. As far as I know he wasn’t into drugs.

He and his girlfriend had a baby boy that they were raising. When Spiegy was graduating, he had no job. He no longer had any funding from student loans. He and his wife were desperate. They helped me in my garden, and the vegetables became their primary food source along with help from a local food bank.

I got a call in late summer from one of our graduates who had a desperate hiring need. I recommended Spiegy, and he got the job.

LJ: You must have felt great about that, but I have a feeling you are going to tell me the rest of the story.

KMcK:  Yes, and what a story it is. Spiegy was hired to be a production supervisor. The workforce was primarily older women who just loved him. Spiegy was very creative and always came up with ideas to make work more fun.

LJLet me guess, you’re going to tell me he’s now the president of the company?

KMcK:  That would be disappointing. No, Spiegy always wanted to be a riverboat captain. So, that’s what he did.

LJ: Amazing. I guess his education didn’t help him much after all.

KMcK: That’s the rest of the story. Spiegy was good at computers, and this was a time when computers were becoming smaller and more versatile. Basically he developed the first computer applications for riverboats on the Mississippi River.

LJ: I’m curious, what was his next venture?

KMcK: I’m sad to say that he died early in life. He had a rare medical condition that was discovered too late.

LJ: That’s so sad. But, you cheated. I asked for a story about an ordinary student. Spiegy was far from ordinary.

KMcK: I’ve never met an ordinary student. Everyone is different. All it takes is for them to discover for themselves what they can do to become extraordinary. If I can nudge those I teach a little in that direction, I have created another memory of awe. Every day awe comes from ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

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“Every day ordinary people do extraordinary things.” – Jim Valvano (basketball coach)

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