I remember grade five, leaning back on the two legs of my chair, there in the most distant row from the teachers desk.
Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Mr. Morgan but it was clear that no self respecting (deeply insecure), cool ( wishfully) and outwardly extroverted (read inwardly paralyzed by anxiety), dude could EVER sit in the front of the class!
Most of the time we sat woefully staring at the standard government issue clock painfully ticking toward recess, lunch and the final bell.
There I would lean against the back wall, with the other ne’er do wells, keenly focused on the fashion gaffs of others, not so much because we were so cool, but more so to ensure we were never the focus.
There were only two small respites that released all the beauty that lies in the heart of a young boy.
1) Gym- uh, no big reveal here, I was an 11 year old !
2) Reading our stories after “free form writing” which we actually referred to as “SWISH”.
One was a physical freedom and the other a creative release.
Mr Morgan was an imposing man who had an occasional stern moment but he was a teacher ahead of his time
” Write for 5 minutes… don’t let your hand come off the paper, don’t stop, don’t worry about spelling or punctuation just let it flow.” He would instruct prior to starting the timer for five minutes.
My heart would race, and despite the idea that we had a time limit, back there in my seat it was like time stood still.
I was in a state of bliss. The kind of altered state where all the edges go soft around perception.
I had but one intention; to write in an entertaining enough way that I would leave the class enthralled, if I were to be chosen to read my piece in front of the class after the five minutes concluded.
Few moments in life at the time or since then have been magical in the same way… yes the birth of my children and maybe a couple hours on a trip to Amsterdam after university were similarly euphoric.
Yet as I reflect back now the one feeling I recall is the sense ” This is what I want to do… and I want to do it well … I want to make this my profession- story teller par extraordinaire”
Life (or fear) had other plans for my talent so I went into Sales!
And while things rolled along through a life that I am profoundly grateful to experience there has always been this unrequited love. This unfulfilled corner of my being that wants to return to that bliss.
When we spend so much time being who we are supposed be we become entrenched and risk missing the opportunity to be who we are.
I was speaking with my daughter and lamenting this unfulfilled love and she reminded me that the only way to overcome fears is to stand before them and present your true self. Only then can we truly “right size” the voices that tell us we won’t be read or laughed with or loved.
What I hope follows this very first outward expression, is the joy and bliss I felt in Mr Morgan’s class. I hope this time I will shape and hone craft and write to present my truest self to whoever is left listening when the buzzer sounds.
In so doing, right sizing the critics in the back of the classroom of my mind.