Losing a Mentor

In Memory of Jean-Claude Audergon.

I didn’t know I had a mentor until he died. Now I look back at all the shared memories and realise – this man shaped so much of how I think and feel about nearly everything.

I remember the summer I met him, learning all the things he taught. All the wisdom that poured out of him. I tried to copy all his ideas and mannerisms, I wanted to be him.

Eventually, I realised that wasn’t so healthy and I forged my own path.

But he was a huge part of it.

It’s not like we’d talk every week. Sometimes months would go by, occasionally years.

But eventually there’d be an email or phone call.

“Let’s have coffee.”

Or: “let’s do a project.”

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t fun and games. It was hard work. I worked harder for him than I ever worked for anyone.

His expectations were huge. If you messed up, he told you.

Part of having a mentor is realising that eventually, it’s not productive to just worship them, you have to stand up for yourself.

So we’d disagree.

We’d argue.

But man, we stopped the world.

We built things.

We did stuff.

Do you have any idea how hard it is to DO things?

But he would always remind you how capable you are.

And then he’d make you push yourself.

And there were laughs, too.

Not a day goes by when I don’t share a story he told me, a piece of wisdom, or a fragment of a memory of experiences we shared.

He’s gone and I don’t know what that means.

Months and years will go by and it’ll feel like a dormant period. I’ll tell myself he’s busy, and I’ll hear from him soon.

But I know deep down, that won’t happen.

But anyone who knew him knows exactly what they have to do.

They know what he expects.

And we won’t let him down.

Me with Jean-Claude in Rwanda, May 2018.

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Daniel Johnson
Writer, Director, Author