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.

I dis­agree.”

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.