The I’m Possible
In between fits of coughs, “I (cough) told you … (cough, cough) it is possible to drink while upside down” he said. My class howled in hysterics at the sight of our 8th grade science teacher hanging upside down from the monkey bars. He hung like a wet towel, red faced while gripping tightly to his apple juice box. We cheered as he gracefully untangled himself from the monkey bars and landed with bravado. With a swift bow, he joined us back on earth.
“So class, sometimes impossible really means I’m possible”, he said. This grinning disheveled adult was more child-like than the pubescent bunch that he was in charge of. He is also the man to whom I credit with being an immense influence in my life.
Mr. Currie was a young, clearly inexperienced first-time teacher. Along with teaching science, he also was the drama teacher for that year. You can always tell first-time teachers because they are eager and so full of idealistic and innovative approaches to teaching. That was exactly what he was — his modern approaches gave us a new appreciation even for things we had written off. I was wary of joining drama again, but after hearing that it would be headed by this strange new teacher, curiosity got the better of me. I signed up again, for the class that scared me more than anything else. I loved the stage and performing, but shyness and insecurity had a tight grip on me and I could never quite do what I wished I could.
“Um … I mean … I dunno… I might change it actually”, I said looking sheepishly at the ground. A pitiful ending my long winded answer. “No way, don’t change it! I think that is the perfect monologue for you”, said Mr. Currie. I calmed down instantly, just like him to always know what to say. He continued explaining that only a couple students would be chosen to perform our monologue at the end of the year. I instantly wanted to be one of the chosen few, but the voice in my head quickly put me in place. There were so many people in class better than me, people who always got the lead roles. I had chosen a difficult monologue and I was already regretting it. I am not even good — I always got the left-over consolation background roles. You know the kind… I might as well be called, “Tree number 2”. With a sigh, I slumped in my seat. But there was glimmer of hope. Maybe this would be my year to get the sought-after prize. Mr. Currie was the only person in all my years of drama classes and school plays who made me feel like I could be more than just a chorus singer or an ensemble member.
Weeks later there I stood on a large stage. I had been chosen by Mr. Currie, but I still felt doubts. I don’t deserve this. He picked me out of pity. There was no spotlight on me, but yet I felt it. All eyes on me, all the eighth graders sat in the crowd. Some bored, some comforting and smiling, some friends, some enemies — like a mixed bag they were all there. The good, the bad and the ugly. The most nerves-inducing face in the crowd was my old drama teacher, Mrs. L. The one who had clearly showed favoritism to the popular, outspoken and naturally gifted actors all of which I was not.
The microphone wailed with the cringe worthy sound of feedback. “That’s it. I can run now”, I thought. My mind was racing. Who was I to think I should be up here. I was on the verge of tears. Mrs. L was right. They were all right. All those eyes that seemed to laugh and question why I was up there. I envisioned my escape route to the nearest washroom where I could finally be safe. As I looked to the wings, my path to safety, I saw the face of Mr. Currie. I was almost ashamed to look. When I finally met his eyes, it wasn’t a look of disappointment like I thought it would be. Neither was it a patronizing smile. His face was set and I knew what it meant. He would not let me run. I needed to do this not for approval, not for anyone out in the crowd but for myself. I needed to prove that I could do it.
I stepped towards the mic and with a wavering voice I began, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…”