I believe the best teachers can sometimes be the most unlikely teachers. Everyone has a teacher, not the kind of teacher that teaches you Math or Social Studies, but the kind of teacher that you could learn a valuable life lesson from. Let me tell you about an unlikely teacher.
It’s true no one knows when they are going to die, but my friend, my unlikely teacher; he was more like a brother than a friend. He was more of my brother’s friend but he was a friend to me too. He knew that life was short; he knew that he had to make the best of his life, and he did. His life ended early, but he lived it to its fullest and never stopped living it. He was the kind of person who got in trouble for all kinds of things; he didn’t always make the best choices, but man, did he know how to brighten up your day! He didn’t get the best grades, but then again he was very smart. You could’ve lost your job, got in a car crash, have your house burn down, and get divorced all in the same day and just by seeing him, your day would get a little better!
His name was Benjamin Anthony. He was 6 foot, 3 inches with curly brown hair and he was pretty muscular. The thing that I didn’t understand about him was that he was so tall and he was afraid of two, two-foot long puppies! My brother and I always used to call Ben tough guy because he thought he was so tough. He was always covered in grease because he worked in a car shop; he loved hockey, and he was good at it too. He played hockey for the Glades, a double A hockey team; he would get in fights with people for no reason at all. He also ate all of the food we had at our house. If my family didn’t finish our food we would give it to Ben and it would disappear. The first time I saw him, I knew he was going to be a troublemaker, and he was. He loved to go fast in his 1965 Ford Mustang, which, by the way had no air conditioning or heating, so you can imagine what it was it was like in the winter! He had more speeding tickets than I thought was possible. I thought he was the last person that I would learn a lesson from, but I learned from him that what’s the point of living if you are never going to take any risks? I am not the only one that he has taught a lesson to and I know it! He might have lived one, short life, but with the amount of stuff he did in it, he lived more like 5 lives in that one life.
Many people knew him as a funny or daring person. Because of his personality, he met many friends, and the people he became friends with were instantly very close with him. All of those people he became friends with had lives that were more enjoyable because they met Ben, because he made a difference in their life, because he was their friend, because he lived life to its fullest and on the edge. He may seem like just an ordinary person making a difference in a couple of people’s lives, but to me, he was a friend, to me he was a brother, and to me he was a difference. I think that if everyone in the world met him, then the world would be a better place.
Ben taught me that I should never give up and never stop living my life even though he wasn’t living his. Just because someone isn’t alive, doesn’t mean that you can’t still learn from them, like Ben. I think Ben wanted me to finish living his life. Because I knew Ben, now I will take more risks, I will try my hardest in school, and I will finish living his life for him.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.