Friday, February 4, 2011

Chapter 6 - Christopher

All his life Christopher had been different than others. He had learned to read at the age of 3. When he started school he was already doing basic mathematics and reading better than most children 5 years older than himself. He was not treated very well by other schoolmates. People tend to belittle and criticize when someone exceeds their own abilities. By the time he started high school he had already exhausted the public school offerings in mathematics, biology, chemistry, and physics. The school board agreed that he would be given a High School diploma and allowed to attend the local university. He had received his first doctoral degree is mathematics by the time he was 21 years old. He later received two additional advanced degrees in chemistry and physics and began teaching at MIT by the time he was 30.

His parents were simple people – both had attended secondary school but had been simple laborers in the town where he was raised. They didn't quite know what to think of little Chris and his unnatural ability to learn and understand. They were religious and they brought Christopher and his little sister Paige up to be good Christians. They had read the Bible as a family and they attended church. Christopher didn't seem to relate to religion however. He often wondered how someone as perceptive as his pastor, could believe that the earth was created in 6 days when his studies had clearly indicated otherwise. Although he respected the Bible, he couldn't accept it as fact. There were some good precepts in it, but no more than other books of philosophy and poetry.

When he went away to college in his mid-teens, he no longer attended church services and abandoned the study of religion. Because of his near perfect recall he still remembered what he had read in the Bible, but it no longer occupied his attention and focus. Religion was dead to him and had been replaced by the fascinating study of the earth and space. It represented a world of possibility and conquest, and Christopher was going to make the most of it.

Christopher was a serious young man, and although young when he started to attend the university, he was not at all attracted to the social aspect of living away from home. The only social interaction was with his professors and the authors of the books he studied. Because he was so much younger than everyone else, he had nothing in common with any of the other students.

He had always believed in a moral code and felt responsible to live by it. As he grew older, there were plenty of opportunities to break that moral code he set for himself, but his discipline was strong. It was after his first advanced degree at the age of 21 when he met Samantha. She had just graduated from high school and was starting her degree in education. It was his strong conviction to remain chaste that set him apart from other men his age and attracted Samantha to him. There were plenty who professed to have the same values, but Samantha found that when it came down do it, all men seemed to have the same thing in mind – and that didn't happen to be what she wanted.

It was the first day of the new term, and Christopher was assigned to teach a basic Algebra course. His age made him a target for ridicule, and although he had the knowledge to teach, and had been a teacher's aid for many years prior, this was his first class as a real professor – and he was nervous. As with many brilliant people, trying to explain in plain terms something that has been commonplace for so many years proved to be very difficult. That entire first term was a disaster. He became so impatient and frustrated when people didn't understand something so simple as Algebra. Why had they given him this class to teach? He was more than qualified to teach Multivariable Calculus – why must he lower himself to teach Algebra? It was a waste of his talent!

The only bright spot in this entire first year experience was Samantha. When she walked in his class that first day, there was something about her that made Christopher think of something other than polynomials. She had one of those unforgettable smiles that always seemed to be there – even when she wasn't smiling. She struggled a bit at first and came up to Christopher often after class to ask for help. Soon Christopher and Samantha, or Sam as he liked to call her, spent every evening together – talking and laughing. Christopher's serious demeanor seemed to soften a little over those few months. Sam began wondering where their relationship was going and started to hint about being together for the rest of their lives. At first Christopher was thrilled, but as time went on and he lost focus on his work – and as he started to work on his next degree he began to value his time alone and dreaded the time he needed to spend with Sam. Eventually she got tired of the shift in his priorities and stopped trying to contact him. Christopher hated to admit it, but he was relieved to finally have his time back – and ever since then, his time has been his own to use as he wished.

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