In graduate school, I met one of the most magical professors. Not only was he a great teacher, but he was a wonderful human. When I took his manuscript class, he was so patient with me as I was nearly in tears as I tackled the challenging of not only translating text from Old English, but deciphering the handwriting of monks. He looked at me kindly and told me I could do it.
And I did.
When I was his teaching assistant, he didn’t just tell me what I had to do, but he asked me about my life. And not in a perfunctory way. He really cared.
My clearest memory of him is when he taught “The Parson’s Tale” in the class I TAed with him. When he got to the ending about heaven and how dark, broken bodies become brighter than the sun, he broke down in tears. Apparently he always did this when he read this passage, but this was particularly poignant because he had been diagnosed with cancer.
I found out he passed away in his sleep last week.
I went to my old Chaucer books and reread the ending of “The Parson’s Tale.”
And I cried.
I tell you this because Chaucer wrote this tale over six hundred years ago, but his tale is still incredibly powerful today. Not only does it beautifully depict the hope of the afterlife, but now my memory of my professor is inexorably connected to it. The two are now forever intertwined.
A guy who has been dead for centuries did that. Because he wrote his book.
Look, we don’t have forever. Please, please write your book. It might move people to tears or laughter. It might help someone remember a loved one. It might give people hope and peace.
Whatever it does, it is important.
Now, not later.