If we’re lucky, our journey through education features great teachers. If we’re extraordinarily lucky, one of those great teachers becomes a friend, and even a mentor. In signing up for a class about a novelist he’d never even read, Stewart Sinclair unwittingly set himself on a path that delivered all three. A lovely ode to the figures who guide us more than they might ever know.

Sometimes Schaberg would come into class with a deep outdoorsman’s tan and talk about whatever thoughts had come to him while he was casting along the Mississippi River. He’d just had his first child in the years while I was his student, and it seemed like all of his thoughts led to the river or the boy. It was apparent to anyone who took his classes that Schaberg was a person searching for meaning, who didn’t believe he had any answers, and who wanted his students to get excited about the search. A fisherman can show you how to read the river to figure out the best place to cast your line, but he can’t tell you what, if anything, might emerge from the depths. That’s the nature of the fun.