I leaned with my back to the wall  and against the partially closed door so that I could stare at the ceiling and hear that wonderful modulation in his voice; trained, no honed; a treat for my ears. He explained his craft in terms that even I could understand. He wanted his students to see something that he understood and lived as easily as he understood simple arithmetic. I kept thinking, “If I understand this, they have earned their Ph. Ds with your explanations”. “Don’t you realize this?”

I say this because my mind always moves toward those subjects that are analytical, safe and without emotion. His subject matter is difficult for my mind to comprehend; I haven’t lived enough or experienced enough to make a dent in understanding the complexities of his creative craft. As I apply the theories of differential calculus to my research in an effort to explain what I observe in the lab, he sees around the corners of life and translates in emotion and explanation. In this manner, I can only listen and not watch if I can gain any insight into a foreign subject.

The room was dark as he played a movie clip for his students to see and appreciate. I heard the sounds, listened to the dialog; much safer for me. My mind tends to focus on first one sense and then the other; vision was too powerful for this. He explained what the director was attempting to convey; I heard his words and received the message as a prayer.

One look! I could risk one small look at this point in the dimmed lights of the room, couldn’t I?  His head bowed so that I could see the grey hair in that characteristic wave that it made, never falling completely to his forehead but shining strands of silver in the dark. I can’t do this! I turned my back to the wall and the door once again; safety in no visual here. No pauses, no uncertainty and a warmth of generosity in the tone of his voice; made me almost laugh at my stupidity, caution and fear.

With this experience, I knew what I was dealing with. My sense of self-preservation was stronger than ever. My fear was so visceral that I could smell it and feel the rush of adrenaline that I can’t control. As a scientist, I have to control and observe without emotion but my body betrayed me. I walked away from the door, from the solidity of the wall and from the sound of his voice. I couldn’t look at him for if he looked up at me with those eyes that see me, my death would be instantaneous; the grey basilisk.


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