One day during my sophomore year of high school I was in an Algebra class. It wasn’t that math was a problem for me really; I was good at math. I didn't find it particularly challenging, and that was the problem. At that age, I was more concerned with those things with whom whose beauty cannot be so easily expressed so concretely as the neatly prepared equations, well arranged matrices, and rudimentary algorithms of 10th grade Algebra. The difficulty was that, I was terribly bored.
I felt my teacher was fine at his job, it was just that listening to him was like murder to my psyche. His tone was as if you were listening to the ticking of a clock. His unceasing and tedious tone, never changing in neither rhythm nor pitch was a melodic vacuum of monotonous narration. It could distract you from your thoughts from time to time, and you would think that you could have been getting some education from it. At some point, though, it simply fades into the background as another form of white noise, like the sound of gulls crying as the waves gently roll into the seashore or a distant foghorn piercing the fog. By the end of most days, those who remained faithfully conscious were only so lucky to have been lulled into a hypnotic trance of dazed lethargy.
Perhaps, in hindsight, he wasn't the best teacher, after all. Either way, he's an accountant now. Whatever my teacher’s true calling may or may not have been, I was hopelessly bored in his math class.
Listening in class was a worthless exercise. I envied those who could simply fall asleep for the hour. Perhaps “passed out” would have been a more appropriate term. I can’t sleep in a room with noise and things going on. Ticking clocks, rustling of papers, the ironic snores of my peers; they held my attention despite my best efforts. I couldn’t fall asleep, but his voice was just distracting enough that I couldn’t just teach myself in class either. I had to wait until I would get home that night and work alone in the quiet. I would stay up hours at night teaching myself my lessons until I competed them. I simply sat there and attempted to learn what I could. I did my real learning alone in my room, late at night, for hours, if need be. As disciplined as I was, a young man, alone in his room, doesn't always do what he should. Not to be broken, as a master of self-amusement, I took the initiative to find for myself ways of occupying my mind beyond the more productive practices of dutifully enduring my studies.
As the time ticked by, I made what seemed to be a choice that had very little consequence at all, but would, in fact, be one of the most important choices of my entire life. That’s only my opinion of course. You’re free to decide on your own.
I began to draw in my book, and with pen no less. Such an act may not sound like a life-altering event, but I will get to that eventually.
Now, more than ten years later, as someone who teaches children of that age, I understand that drawing in a book was really an act of rebellion against a teacher for not educating me in the manner I saw fit. I was apparently angry that so much of my time was being robbed from me to do things that, as I felt at the time, had no value. At the very least, the class was not communicating clearly to me what the value of such tasks were, if I would ever need them, and if all the hours I had lost would ever mean anything at all. At least that is what the research I have read would say. The truth is, I don't remember being angry. I only just remember being very bored and somewhat easily distracted. I gave in to my uncharacteristic venting of frustration. Still, I am sure that any good psychologist might think differently, being that my first act of rebellion was in the form of a clock.
I drew a small clock in the bottom right corner of one of the first pages. It was very simple; only a small circle with a small arm pointing to twelve o'clock a four tick marks to denote the quartered face. A small tremor filled my spirit as I looked with unabashed exhilaration and a repressed pride at my act of egregious vandalism. I was a criminal... and it felt good. Something you must understand is that I was not a very wild personality in my youth, much more quiet and reserved than I am today. Having reveled long enough in my adolescent escapades, I smiled slyly to myself and returned to my lesson.
YOU ARE READING
I Drew a Monkey in a Math Book and Now I'm MarriedNon-Fiction
***Ranked #4 in Non-fiction - "It's a thing of beautiful nonsense to be young." ***Featured original non-fiction for Pivot TV's Secret Lives of Americans. I Drew a Monkey in a Math Book and Now I'm Married is the true story of how I met my wife Jenn...