August 26, 2010

Celebrating Greg Tropea

Posted in Inspiring Stories tagged , at 12:05 pm by tiffanyannbrown


A favorite professor of mine passed away recently, who not only inspired me to reach new levels of thought, but who remained a great friend over the course of the past 10 years. Through a review of old emails and much introspection, I’ve decided to start a blog on the premise of not only discovering but exploring new ideas, picking up where I last left off with him nearly 10 years ago when life was much more adventurous as a full-time student.

Greg not only inspired me to dig deep, “question everything,” think critically, challenge myself, and embrace the abstract, but to make time for people, live openly, give generously, and act kindly. Most of all – he taught me to put the time aside for deep thought and meaningful conversation.

Below is an email I’d like to share, dated May 24, 2006:

“I’m swamped with grading, Tiffany, but one of the things you said in your note brought me back to our conversation last September. In September, we talked about whether living a good life was enough, and as you recall, we agreed that ethics alone would not satisfy the spirit. I think that conversation connects to your thoughts below about putting the important things on hold to take care of the mundane details first. Each of these thoughts, in its own way, seems to me in danger of leaving the spirit out of the picture, the former by not knowing what it is missing and the latter by deciding for that absence.

The mundane details will always be there. Sure, some greater measure of stability may be achieved, but remember the Buddha’s observation that existence has the nature of dukkha, which we can think of as “It’s always something.”

As I see it, putting your best intuitions on hold is like saying you’ll listen to the lower harmonics of a piece of music now and the higher harmonics later. In neither case will there be much satisfaction or understanding.

Our entire life is our learning experience. I don’t think I’m telling you anything new in saying that the course a life takes depends in large measure upon the soul’s attunement. It affects how you perceive and relate to everything. Moreover, as Sartre reminds us, while the activities of the day may be mostly determined by the demands of our professional and personal involvements, HOW we engage in those activities is our choice to make.

So I am not suggesting unrealism or that pitiful new age caricature of wishful thinking. Working constantly for the fullest spectrum of consciousness you can attain will give you a perspective and vision at key decision points that mere strategists will never have. It’s not an either-or, it’s a both-and. Having your calculations and skills in order, like living the ethical life, is the minimum requirement, not the fulfillment of our life’s promise.

Lifetimes go by in the blink of an eye and people with spiritual gifts can get lost in the world. I don’t want that to happen to you and I know you don’t either.

As ever,
Greg”

I remember the very first day in 1999 that I sat in Greg’s Eastern Philosophy class, sizing him up as strange. With long, gray hair pulled back into a ponytail and sporting a long trench coat I instantly made the rash assumption that he and I would find little in common, but in no time at all I was completely enamored with him.

According to an article in the California State University, Chico student paper entitled “Greg Tropea Remembered by Friends”:

A former student recalled Tropea with gratitude. Sitting in Tropea’s logic and critical thinking class as a freshman in the late 1980s, Deedee Vest felt like her mind was opened to new ways of thought, she said. “It changed my life and how I viewed everything,” Vest said.

Reading this, it became apparent to me that I was not the only person made to feel this way. And therein lies the truth that this man was at the core someone both authentic and amazing who lived his own life to the fullest, while inspiring others to do the same. Please click here to read more about Greg Tropea.

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