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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Monday, April 30, 2007

Michiel Dutre: Colleague, Advisor and Gentleman

Michiel Dutre was the rarest of gentlemen. The world I live in sometimes seems to have so few gentlemen, anymore. And, now, one fewer.

My last conversation with Michiel was not long before Christmas. A colleague was trying to recruit me to the division for which he and Michiel both worked. He asked Michiel to help his case. To talk me around to the idea. He knew my respect for Michiel was profound, that I considered Michiel wise, that I would listen carefully to anything Michiel said.

We got each other on the phone, and Michiel asked me why we were talking. He would do that. He’d ask why even when he knew the reason. Even when he was the reason. His questions were often simple, always asked with gentleness. But answering Michiel was rarely simple. Confronting his questions usually required confronting oneself.

Why were we talking? I summed up, best as I could. Michiel drew back, over the phone line, and said to me, “You know, when they asked me to talk with you about this, I asked them if they were sure they wanted me to. Because I work for the company first, and for them second. And what’s really important here, is what’s best for you.” Michiel then undid each piece of the case his colleague was trying to build. He considered it his duty to me.

Like all great teachers, Michiel probably never knew how influential he was. I imagine there are scores, like me, who regularly bring Michiel to mind to keep ourselves honest, to keep ourselves grounded in the face of decisions that seem momentarily great. His specter invoked, I would always be reminded that, however important the decision, more life was happening outside the windows of the office building than within it.

I am grateful to have known him. I am proud to have learned from him. I am humbled to have received his counsel. I am lucky to have been touched by his generous, sandpaper laugh.

We were all blessed to have him as an example. My tribute to him will be to try to follow it. And to be the gentleman he invariably was.

Michiel Dutre, colleague and gentleman, died over the weekend, having lost his battle with cancer.


Comments on "Michiel Dutre: Colleague, Advisor and Gentleman"


Blogger vera de clercq said ... (7:58 PM) : 

I used to work as his assistant when he was still located at Alcatel Antwerp. I am shocked to hear he is deceased and feel sincerely saddened. Michiel was a great personality and I feel honoured to have known him...


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