I received an email the other day from my high school, St. Ignatius College Prep, that one of our beloved teachers passed away.
Father Thul lived a life of service, as called upon by his Jesuit faith, one aspect of which was teaching mathematics at SICP.
As I reflect on my time in school, among the many students whose lives were enriched by Father Thul, the first thing to come to mind was that he was instrumental in changing the course of my life.
The odd thing is, I never had Father Thul as a teacher.
He did substitute a few times, and I got to know him outside of regular classes, for various school events.
Each year, Father Thul delivered a slide presentation about two annual trips he took a select few students on.
The first trip was a two-week canoeing trip to Quetico in Ontario, Canada.
The pictures were simply stunning.
I so wanted to go on this trip, but I was afraid of leaving for that long (I’d never been away from home before).
The second trip was more spectacular.
If the pictures of Quetico stunned me, the slide show of Machu Picchu knocked me out cold.
I HAD to go there, but I could not afford the trip.
So, sadly, I didn’t go on either trip.
However, just being exposed to these images of beautiful, far away places lit a fire in me…
Get there ASAP.
I started to take road trips in college, but it wasn’t until I finished school that I took to getting out into nature seriously.
OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS TWICE
While teaching martial arts in my instructor’s school, I met a family who owned a travel company who took people all over the world…
Including to Machu Picchu!
I was broke, but I took this a sign and I wasn’t going to let this chance pass me up again.
So, after saving with single-minded determination for travel expenses, and with exactly $100 in my pockets to spend for the entire time I would be there, I was off to Peru and to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.
Father Thul was one of my inspirations to see the world, bask in its beauty, and to eventually move to Colorado.
He never knew what a profound influence he had on me, simply by sharing his passion to see the world and help the downtrodden.
To this day, I take to heart how my teaching, advice, suggestions and inspiration can set a student on a radically different, truer life path, just as Father Thul did for me.
We really never know how much of a positive influence we can have on each other, especially when they take action based on our interactions.
I’ve seen it said that to teach is to touch a life forever, and Father Thul did that for me, for which I am ever grateful.
RIP Father Thul.
I hope to pay it forward and that my story inspires you to expand your horizons, see that what you want to do or to be, is possible and you take a step toward your dreams today.
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