This post was syndicated to Semester at Sea's Shipmates publication for a new column called "My Life at Sea." As if every day isn't a remarkable gift, I experienced something today that had me choking back tears from unfathomable intensity.
Today, I slept through class due to an unknown time zone change and punished myself in the form of compartmentalized exercise and resumé construction. After our typical hilarious lunch time antics, I struggled through a tedious exam, ran down to deck 2 for a quick shower, and then situated myself within arms length of the front chair in my next classroom.
While I am normally magnetized to the window seat in the back, which usually curbs my seasickness, I relocated in order to improve the vista that I am sure remember my entire life. That swiveling seat and chilled glass of water sitting ahead of me was reserved for the most accomplished man I've ever shared oxygen with, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. His tangible presence summoned immediate attention and respect upon entering the room, even though his wardrobe included board shorts, knee high dress socks, and black leather flip flops. We were all poised with smiles, straight backs, and pencils in the air when he rose to speak from the adjacent podium, but he immediately expressed his own humility ever so subtly in an attempt to homogenize the classroom. Tutu transformed himself from a living legend into the every man within minutes, contradicting all our preconceived assumptions as to why he became an priest and what he was like as a child (entranced by comic books). He became a cartoon character, a goofy man with a drive to inspire the youthful that inspire him unknowingly.
I left with welling tears in a state of intrigued confusion, knowing it would be a while before I could fathom what just happened.
On this ship of dreams, it's just another day when the most famous archbishop in the world speaks to your classroom. At home, it's a jaw dropping phenomenon.