I find it so surprising that in the autumn of your life age you finally begin to take a look at various situations that had a major impact on your life. Whether they were happy,sad,compelling or just plain moving. The amount of things one experiences in life is incomprehensible that our brain can file away memories and emotions that can be revived over and over. I doubt that Microsoft or Apple could design a hard drive that could deposit the amount of gigabytes that the human mind can recall via a memory of sight, sound or scent. I would not be the person I am without the presence of those past experiences. For every song from the past there is a valid touching memory attached. The smell of a favorite food, or the scent of a certain cologne all shroud me with warm feelings from the past.
Within the past lies your future and yet we wait a long time to see how it all fit together. In researching yourself you are able to find countless reasons why you do the things you do and the way your emotions all came together. In my life, as juxtaposed as it was I have begun to understand just how I became ME. The battle is still ongoing yet the fight has been almost won.
I understand that genetics play an important role in how you physically grow up but the mind choices are your responsibility. I never felt there were enough choices I always assumed there had to be more or even better ones. It made for quite exhaustive decision's. While teacher's tried to mold the sharp corners of my mind, the choices we were given in school seemed very limited to me. I challenged most every request and would always have an alternative idea that always got squashed. I had to LEARN how to play by their rules but I inserted some variation to those rules along the way. Eventhough some teachers found it annoying, others applauded me in thinking outside the box. I became the outspoken one and usually made sure I got a word in as often as possible. There were two absolutely wonderful teachers who moved me and gave me the power to prove myself and to dare to dream beyond just idle words.
The first teacher came in a pint size package that barely could reach the chalk board. I will never forget that first day back at school. The noise level and craziness in the classroom was at an all time high and in she walked with her freshly carved cane. She may have been small but the wig of her choice reached to the heavens above. I was mesmerized by how high the wig hair was. She commanded your attention by slamming the cane on the desk and demanding silence. Like I would ever allow that to happen, I rose to the occasion by letting her know that it scared all of us by slamming her cane and to not do that again. Well........so much for getting on her good side. She implored me to keep my mouth shut until I was spoken to as she was the "Keeper of this Castle" and I was to do as I was told with absolutely no back talk. This was not going to be easy, for one thing I couldn't keep quiet and the back talk idea was just going to have to be changed to suit my needs and not hers. She immediately realized who the smart ass was going to be and made a little note on her grade book to remind herself to torture me as often as possible. I promised myself to find her weak point and from there I would maneuver her into a comfort zone. This was not going to be easy.
From the first day the student-teacher war had begun. I made it my duty to challenge everything requested and belligerently did it my own way just for the hell of it. It would soon prove to be both positive and negative. Still that wig had to be tamed in order for me to look at her without laughing. She became known throughout the school as "Mrs. Wigwam". We always felt she would be meeting GOD earlier than most since her hair reached up so high. She was a no nonsense teacher and you always felt the tension whenever she was near. Day after endless day I felt trapped in her castle of school torture. She was the snake and I was her victim and she challenged me to a daily duel with her venomous tongue, and of course I would shake my rattler and bite back. By the end of each day her poor wig would always be leaning to one side as the class really made her work hard to stay focused. As the last bell would ring she would always be sure to have a need to speak with me about something that I found trivial. I would listen with half an ear and shrug it off as I left the school grounds. Yet those few words made a silent impact within me that I was totally unaware of until years later. She was the only teacher that suggested strongly that I should visit the principal for an attitude adjustment. From that suggestion I retorted strongly that she should visit her hairdresser and get a wig adjustment. The principal had to be a latent lesbian who would scare the pants off anyone who crossed her path. I found her charming and mean, exactly in that order. She would not allow you to speak and kept the big spanking paddle in view to try and intimidate you. She mentioned strongly that I had better learn to pay closer attention in class or I would be getting paddled for continued misbehavior. I felt the need to let her know that I would NOT be paddled at any time and that I would hit back if she ever laid a hand on me. That led to a phone call to my Mother and a dismissal back to the torture room. Whatever transpired with that phone call was never disclosed to me, but I was in no trouble when I returned home that afternoon. Evidently a conference was called to discuss the recent situation. Dealing with teachers was not a fun thing for Mother, she defended her A-D-D cub to the end. There would be no paddling and "Mrs. Wigwam" would just have to shrink a few more inches.
Upon returning to school the next week I noticed a change in her demeanor toward me. She left me alone and when called upon to answer questions she allowed me the freedom to speak my answers with my own insights. I began to look at her differently and could sense the tension between us was beginning to dissapate. After having completed a mindful day of quarterly tests, I noticed the wig once again was off to one side by the end of the day. I waited for the rest of the class to leave the room and took a desk in front of her and told her that I was sorry for the way I had been acting and let her know that I was mean to say the cruel remark about her wig. She accepted my apology and then told me the story of why she wore a wig. By the time she was finished I realized just how vulnerable she allowed herself to be in front of me. It seems that childhood scarlet fever had left a lot of physical changes she had to overcome. Not only did she not grow tall in height but lost all of her hair. I really felt her pain and would recognize that all is not what it seems to be. I left that room a humbled boy with a lot to think about. She taught me the meaning of judging the book by its cover or in this case a wig. Because what lies beneath the wig or between the pages of that book is a story that you have yet to read. She explained that the answers to questions can make you wise but the questions make you human and to never stop being inquisitive for it will always lead you to the correct conclusion.
The challenges that I faced with her directed me to be more discerning in my conclusions. I finished that school year even more inquisitive than before. Before that school year ended, I took it upon myself to offer my young styling skills and turned that wig into a more modern hair style. She was very greatful for my help. The hairspray that held the hair in place also held respect from student to teacher. She retired two years later and I have no clue what happened with her after that. The amount of knowledge that she provided still stands with me to this day. I truly believe she knew she got through to me as I got through to her. We both came out the other side of the gate with with a clearer understanding of what it takes to be different and courage to have personal convictions and to see them through, no matter what. The jet stream was tough that year until I learned to fly with it instead of against it.