It’s been too long since I posted.
This is a post honoring this blog’s namesake, the late Dr. David G. Myers. By far my favorite professor in my time at The Ohio State University. (side note: I highly recommend his blog, which I will link at the end of this post. It’s a touch religiously oriented, which may not be for everyone, but as a non-religious person myself I still highly enjoy his writing and respect the hell out of his opinions.)
So let me tell you a story. I was a shit student. No lies. I didn’t study, I procrastinated, I went out and partied every weekend, even during finals. Shocking part about all this is I passed every class I took in college. Not with great grades, mind you, but I passed. At the time that’s all I really cared about; getting drunk and scraping by. I started my Junior year and signed up for classes the way I always do: checked for my requirements, then found the classes which fulfilled them and also started after 12:00 PM. One quarter I was forced to take a class at 11:30 AM and I overslept for over half the classes.
Really guys, I was *not* a good student.
But Junior year I had to take a specific literature class, I can’t remember what the reason was for why I had to take it, but the only available time slot was 9:30 AM. I was very unhappy. But I dragged myself to class anyway and it was there I met David Myers. But for the love of god don’t call him “professor” or “doctor,” even though those are both valid titles. He goes by “David.” He made that clear to us at the start of the first class. And I realized I kind of liked him.
Then he began his opening day lecture. Usually these are just a boring reading of the syllabus, which we did cover, but then he said something that has stuck with me ever since:
“The basis for all intellectual discussion is disagreement.”
He went on to talk about how he expected us to argue with him, he expected us to not take what he said as law, and he expected to have us change his mind throughout the course. And then I realized I loved him.
He lived up to all of those expectations. That class was the most vivid and lively class I had ever taken up to that point. The surprising part about it was that it was a class on Henry James, and up to that point, I rather abhorred 19th century literature. I felt it was antiquated and frankly, boring. But David brought these stories to life, and we had some of the most passionate arguments I’d ever had about anything in that class. It was amazing. He also (being Jewish) brought us bagels and lox every Friday, since he knew college kids were not fans of mornings, particularly mornings on Fridays. I didn’t skip his class once that quarter, something I can’t say for any of the other classes I took at OSU.
After the class was over, I had a new way of finding which classes to take; look up which classes David was teaching and take those. I actually took an extra course I didn’t need to graduate just because he was the teacher for it. I ended up taking three classes with David, two more than I took with any other single professor, and over the course of that year, we actually became rather good friends.
I recommended his classes to my then girlfriend, Kyra, who also loved him. Midway through the quarter, Kyra was suffering from some mental health issues (I won’t say too much since she is a real person and I don’t want to spread her business around) and attempted to end her life. After a night in the ER and her being admitted to the psych ward, I went to David’s class the next day. I got there early and waited for him outside the room. When he approached, I let him know that she wouldn’t be attending class that day and (with her permission, we had already discussed this) that it was because of the suicide attempt. He dropped his binder. Literally dropped it. His face was so shocked and he got very concerned, asking about her, and where she was staying, and how she was doing now, and all kinds of things that he didn’t have to ask. I was just trying to let him know why she wasn’t there.
I had mentioned that I was going to visit her after class, and David ended class early. He drove me to the hospital. He came in with me to visit her too. We all sat and chatted for a while, and it was then that David confessed to us a bit of a secret of his own: he had advanced stage Pancreatic Cancer. He was going to die soon. He was actually already well past the initial estimate of when he would die.
Obviously, we were a bit shocked. Here is this man, so lively and energetic, so full of love and passion for his class and his family, and he was dying. Literally, actually, dying. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so taken aback. I didn’t know what to say. I still don’t know what to say. Honestly, what *can* you say in that situation? Luckily, he had already come to terms with it, and he helped us again getting through the revelation of his own imminent demise.
The rest of that year was bittersweet. We continued to have our lively and entertaining arguments in class, and eventually David opened up to the whole class about his cancer, and you could feel the same shock which I had felt resounding through the rest of the class. This man changed all of our lives that day. He taught us all, in one stroke, that life was fleeting, and yet even though it will end someday that that’s not a reason to hold back or to lie down and accept it.
Life is a gift meant to be lived to the fullest of one’s ability. Not only did David do that, but he also taught all of us how to do that.
Thank you, David.