Mrs. Torso, my high school guidance counselor, had a stare that could easily pull apart the sinewy layers of a human being.
She just sat there, waiting for a response to a question she posed to me milliseconds earlier. Her jowls wiggled a bit, like Barbara Eden’s noise twitch in “I Dream of Genie”, as if she were salivating at the thought of chewing on the bits of my soul.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
I nodded and for some reason decided to awkwardly stare at the paperwork on her desk, as if I could have blinked them and Mrs. Torso out of existence.
“Well, I’ll let your teacher know that you’ve decided to drop Geometry to be a T.A. (Teacher’s Assistant) in Ceramics, but…”
Oh boy, here it comes.
“… you should know this decision, to drop out of math, is disappointing and means you’ll probably never have a job that pays you more than $20,000 a year and you will never be successful. Statistically…”
Right then all of the molecules in the room froze and time itself gave me a reprieve. I could finally breathe and suddenly all of the energy in my body escaped to a world formed in my mind where I was free from the judgement of Mrs. Torso.
A world made of clay.
In a universe I could shape myself, without the shackles of the unknown, the “What If’s” that are so easily tossed like cooked grenades into the pathways of many.
This was the defining moment where I had decided that my artistic pathway was what I needed to follow, not mathematics. Could this one, seemingly insignificant decision change the course of my future?
I was betting on it.
When time resumed I knew what I had to say and do. I got up from where I was sitting, shook my head and looked her in the forehead, avoiding her Medusa-like stare.
That was all I had to say and walked out. My ambition to stay true to myself and the path I needed to follow then was stronger than ever and I’ve never once in my life thought I needed to deviate.
Years later I came across a newspaper article featuring Mrs. Torso, about her life-long desire to be a professional calligrapher/letterer. She explained that despite her ambition, calligraphy was only a hobby, one she most likely practiced well beyond 10,000 hours.
If I could speak to her today, I’d let her know that despite what she thought my future would hold, none of which she foretold came true or mattered.
I was able to shape my world, follow my pathway and ultimately realized my ambition and I still have time to achieve beyond whatever goal marks I continue to set for myself.
I’d also let her know that, she too, has time to do the same.