I recently connected with a former high school classmate of mine after 30 years and in an email exchange he mentioned his friendship with our English teacher, Mr. Lund.
Mr. Lund was originally from Maine and he had that formal New England headmaster quality to him that belonged in a private school and not a public one. His classes would usually start off with some anecdote about his life, and we learned about his brother Maurice (pronounced as Morris) and about his interest in everything Japanese.
I was in two of his classes: sophomore English and British Literature. For the most part, I think they were my favorite courses, but I have to admit that I was not very keen with Mr. Lund’s propensity to announce pop quizzes. Although I always managed to pull a good grade by the end of the course, it was these pop quizzes that would kill me; I thought he was unfair by surprising us like that. But as William Goldman pointed out in The Princess Bride: Life is not fair. I think Mr. Lund would have agreed with that and he would have added, “and be prepared for the unexpected.”
My original goal for this post was to write how Mr. Lund instilled a love for writing and reading, but now that I think about it, that would be dishonest. I already had that in me long before I took his classes. What I learned from him was that you should always be prepared and never be caught with your pants down.
Mr. Lund taught me the roots of words, how to breakdown a sentence, how to analyze a poem, but the most important lesson was that life’s surprises won’t catch you off guard if you prepare yourself for the worst case scenario. For that alone, I will be eternally grateful to him.