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The email that took me by surprise

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Inspiration for Overthinkers

February 7 · Issue #58 · View online
Tackling stress and anxiety, one experiment at a time.

“A mind not to be changed by place or time / The mind is its own place, and in itself / Can make a heav'n of hell, a hell of heav'n.” — John Milton, Paradise Lost

Dear fellow voyagers,
Have you ever have a teacher who stood out beyond all others? Do you know what made you feel connected to or inspired by that particular person?
I’ve been lucky to be inspired by teachers all along my educational journey. My middle school history teacher challenged me to think differently about the facts on the page. My high school math teacher made me believe I was good at calculus (and with their help, I was!) And one of my college professors brought John Milton’s Paradise Lost to life in such a way that I still have scenes from it rattling around my brain.
This professor made such an impression on me, in fact, that when he told me not to go to graduate school ( “Trust me, you won’t like being an English professor,”) I listened to him. And he was right.
At the time, I didn’t think about why I trusted him. I just knew I did.
So when I got an email from this very professor out of the blue just two weeks ago, twenty years after I took his classes, I was stunned and thrilled.
I never had the hubris to believe he'd remember me.
I never had the hubris to believe he'd remember me.
And what did I learn from emailing with this favorite professor of mine, a man whose approach to things resonated so deeply with my own? He’s an overthinker too! He was beautiful voyaging decades before I knew there was such a thing.
In fact, in his follow up email he said to me,
 I’m recommending Beautiful Voyager to my entire excessively ruminating clan. We have 4 beautiful, voyaging (now adult) daughters, all of whom share to some extent their father’s DNA-encoded anxiety. One in particular has struggled mightily with her own brain all her life—thanks, I guess, to my genes.  
This revelation had the feeling of a jigsaw puzzle piece fitting into place. Remember, I only realized I had an anxiety disorder at age 40. Looking back into my 20s is like watching a movie where I, the viewer, know why the main character is making the choices they are even if they don’t.
I didn’t know why, but I trusted him.
Teachers represent a vision of so much more than the subjects they teach. They are a connection to a future of thought we can barely envision at the time.
For all of you overthinkers, tell me, did your favorite teachers help you find a place to park your active minds? I’d love to hear more. Email me back and let me know what connected you to these important people over the years.
With deep gratitude to my teachers along the way,
Love, Meredith
Love, Meredith
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