Here's the Important Point

The other night, I was at a panel of professors. 

At an energetic part of the discussion, one professor said with great conviction, "Here's the important point..." And instinctively, I leaned forward to hear him. 

When I was in college, plenty of professors would say that with equally great conviction. I'd write down the important point word-for-word, underline it, asterisks it, put arrows around it. And I'd do it with relief, because someone had told me, This is important. 

But at the panel, what I was thinking was how grateful I also was for the professors who didn't say it. They were the ones who forced me to figure out what was important. To do the consciousness-building work of sifting through words to find wisdom. 

In some ways, these professors primed me to realize that many important points don't come labeled as such. They are said quietly, come from unexpected voices, tucked in footnotes, dismissed, discarded. No one leans in to hear them. 

So our work, if we choose it, is to be alive, awake, open enough to hear them. 

The professor at the panel did make an important point. And he made it alongside plenty of other important points. They just weren't called that. 

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