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In the Beat of a Heart


A portrait of the historian Arnold Toynbee hung on the wall of Professor Orr's office. Paul looked at the old man on the wall on Monday morning as he posed the question to his mentor. "I was reading again this weekend, about Jews, and it made me do some thinking about the destiny of man. Do we have free will or are we powerless to determine our course?"

"Toynbee and Spengler, huh?"

"Yeah, but the book really didn't go into their ideas in any depth, but it made me wonder."

"Why are you reading a history of the Jews?"

"How's this for intellectual motivation. Because I started dating a Jewish girl recently."

"She's pretty." Paul looked surprised and Orr took note. "I don't always have lunch in this little office reading over blue books. Occasionally, I'll go over to the UMC for lunch with a colleague."

"She's good for me, Professor, really good for me. She's so smart, asks a lot of questions, makes me study, and is different. One minute I wonder what she sees in me, that she'll wake up and realize that she could have better. Then, and more often, she gives me this belief in myself, that I can pretty much do anything."

"Toynbee, Paul, without a doubt."