From all of the unique high school memories that have collected dust in the book cases of my mind, one demands attention. It’s brief but meaningful.
One early afternoon at Northwest High School, I sauntered in early for my fifth hour English class with Mrs. Bowen. I don’t remember why I made it in so far ahead of the tardy bell, but as Mrs. Bowen arrived with her roly cart (new teachers get those), Mr. Seal, the legend of the school, was departing. They struck up a friendly conversation, and at one point, for no apparent reason, Mr. Seal included me in it by gaining my eye contact, and stating matter-of-factly, “You’re an English kid. You’re a writer.” When he detected the question marks in my expression, he just said, “Trust me. I can just tell.”
Most often, I remember the meaningful things said to me by unbelievably attractive girls, my best friends, and older mentors. I remember what beautiful women say because I’m shallow. I remember what my best friends say because they know me well. And I remember what older mentors tell me because they’re wise and often can see into my future in a way that I can’t.
I know a lot of attractive women. I have a lot of great friends. When I think about it though, I don’t have many older mentors. I’m not using these words as confetti for my online pity party. Instead, I’m just stating the obvious.
Growing up and as a young adult, I’ve had a life of privilege. Opportunities abound. I’m never short on cash, and good people are everywhere. Yet I’m still in need of older men to speak into my life. I wonder how young men feel who aren’t so fortunate.
My Grandpa Vischer repeated stories shamelessly, and now I remember them every day. He also used a daily prayer list that my name was on. I could call him any time when he was alive, and most days I wish I still could.
My dad watched basketball and football games with me when I was a kid because he learned to enjoy and be involved in the things I loved. His humility and gentleness still amaze me every day.
Gabe, my best friend, and I often invite ourselves over to Mr. Spice’s house to talk, listen to music, build bonfires, or just chill after a hard week. Sunday, he taught us how to do the Rhumba, a ballroom dance step, so that we could “outclass” our generation of guys on the dance floor.
Mr. Seal, my Uncle Hoz, Dr. Patton, Dr. Walrath, Dr. Metts, and numerous others have given me opportunities or spoken things that I didn’t see in myself as though they already were. The creative power of their words in random off-the-cuff moments define many key turning points in my life.
I’m genuinely thankful to all of the older men who have spoken good into me. But sometimes, I still feel a shortage, which makes me wonder, “Have I intentionally mentored any younger guys lately?” The answer is a deafening, “No.”
It’s time to fix that.
P.S. Thanks, Mr. Seal!