Remembering a teacher’s life
Sometimes I think of him. In the autumn at the age of 21, I took a theater course. At that time, I was studying at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada as an exchange student.
Professor Peter Loeffler, who taught the course, pursued the essentials in life. Materially, he lived very simply without a car, a computer, or a TV, in the same blue jeans and blue shirts throughout the semester. However, his mental life was rich with his love for his students and his passionate teaching.
Our classroom was a theater in the college. The professor invited a director and actors to our class so that we could see actors act directed by the director. One day, Professor Loeffler gave us an opportunity to create a short scene by groups, handing out scripts. He, himself, also showed us on the stage various ways to say the line in Hamlet, “To be, or not to be? That is the question.” Every class was interesting.
In the middle of the semester, each student met with the teacher. I too visited his office and talked about my term paper and so forth with him. He gave me warm advice. To go to his office, I passed the stage of the theater, and the hallway inside. The office was small like Keating’s office in the movie, “Dead Poets Society.”
At the end of the term, the professor gave us each a piece of paper, saying that he prepared a present. On the paper was a list of “Five Theaters You Should Not Miss,” with pictures of masks, the Swan Theater in the Shakespearean era and so on. The list consisted of the Theater of Epidaurusin Greece and theaters in Italy, Brazil, Sweden, and Belgium.
After the semester ended, I wrote a thank-you letter to Professor Loeffler and went to the theater. Passing an aisle in the auditorium, and the stage, I arrived in front of his office and knocked. There was no answer inside the closed door. I left my letter under the door.
Later, I heard that he had passed away from disease. I do not know when he knew about his illness. But not showing it to us at all, he left quietly after giving us the best love he could give.
Before long, the school held a service celebrating his life. Students and friends who loved him gathered, shared memories of him, and listened to the songs students sang. It was a snowy winter day with an all white sky. I attended the service with a friend who had taken the theater course together with me, and celebrated our teacher’s life.
One day, after a long time has passed, I suddenly missed my teacher. I haven’t been to the five theaters in the world that he recommended. Nonetheless, as all the places in our lives are the stage, we will have no regret if we live as protagonists of our lives wherever we are. And if I visit one of the five theaters some day, I will begin anew there once again, remembering the teacher: To be devoted to the essence of life.