His name is James, and he’s a scholar.
Everyday a balding, upper-middle-aged gentleman rides his bicycle to my library wearing mis-matched clothing, a duct-taped helmet, a back brace (held on by a belt), and lugging a patched up, ancient military backpack. He is going deaf, so he talks louder than one should in a library, and he mutters to himself not-so-quietly the entire time he’s here.
He doesn’t know how to use a computer. He takes copious notes in his giant three-ring binder, and when he needs to look up a definition (which he frequently does), he has to break out the stone tablet-sized, weighs-more-than-you-do dictionary.
He believes in conspiracy theories – as far as I can tell, all of them.
He seems like a kooky old man who has nothing better to do with his time than make work for the librarians and disturb other patrons with his eccentricities.
He professes to be ignorant, but he’s not. Over the four years I have watched him in the library, he has studied every topic imaginable. He studies ancient warfare, the SAT, army tanks, Bible commentaries, religious cults, aircraft, the government, Sunday School literature, theological debates, sermon-making, geography, philosophy, psychology, and missions. Every few days he has a different set of books he’s poring over.
He’s a scholar.
He makes me ashamed of myself.
Here I am – in the midst of my Master’s degree, graduated magna cum laude, nationally ranked Bible Quizzer – and I can honestly say I have never studied as much or as hard as he does on a daily basis. I have studied by requirement and I have studied for reward, but never have I ever diligently studied because I wanted to.