A Tribute to My First Mentor

How quickly life moves the less attention we give it.

When you spend time in the now, in the moment, life is abundant with experience, awareness, perception and love. When we live in the moment we are completely ourselves. Time surrenders itself into the field of intellectual construct. The present moment is time-less.

This awareness came at great expense a few years ago. I had an urge to contact my former professor and mentor, Jutta Goheen. She was my advisor during my graduate studies at Carleton University. She passed away in 2002, only 68 years old. I didn’t even know because I hadn’t been paying attention and I was putting things off. I thought of her often and about contacting her. I even looked on the Carleton University website, but could not locate her. I made no greater effort, because it was a world that seemed so long ago, but also because I harboured a hidden shame.

Frau Goheen believed in me more than anyone at a time in my life of tremendous growth of the mind. She nourished and nurtured my abilities as a scholar and as a student of German language, literature and culture. She was patient beyond measure with an uncanny ability to inspire. Jutta Goheen never wavered in her support of my continued improvement and her belief in my ablities. This was noticed by my colleagues and rewarded with scholarships and recognition on the Dean’s List.

In the first year of my Master’s I shifted away from my area of speciality (Middle-High German linguistics and Minnesang poetry). I applied for a year-long scholarship in Germany to pursue a topic I thought I had to do. No one else had ever done such a topic and I suppose it was my ego that wanted to make a mark in the tiny world of German Linguistic scholarship. This diversion in small part cost me the completion of my Master’s degree. Yet it was a path I choose and a path I found myself lost upon, realizing on the journey how much I still had to learn.

I do not live with the regret of having not finished my Master’s degree. Nor was this due to any lack of support from Jutta Goheen. Instead, she fully supported all my decisions. At the end it was once again her wise guidance that helped me make the final decision to withdraw from my Master’s, without guilt or fear of failure.

But I did feel guilt. For years it felt like I had let her down. Then I thought I had let myself down. Then I realized I made choices and that hindsight serves no useful purpose. What I could do was to see how far I’ve come and to realize, had I completed a PhD, I would have been a very unhappy person.

I remember how saddened I was upon first reading the news of Frau Goheen’s passing. I cried reading the words. I felt weak, stupid, guilty, and ashamed that I never made the effort to reach out and thank her — after so many years had gone by. I wanted to tell her in person about the impact she had upon my life, having grown into a mature awareness of the gifts she taught me. I know in my heart she knew this. I believe she never expected anything more than the best effort of her students. With her encouragement I excelled and I believed in myself, thanks to her honest and supportive guidance.


Mark Whitehand invited me to play and take part in “The 30 Things About Me Experiment.”

#30thingsaboutmeexperiment