When I was in grade eleven I got in trouble with the school administration team. This was weeks before I was actually suspended for telling my marketing teacher to have sexual relations with some goats and sheep. In case you are wondering, back in those days you would get three days for that. The only suspension I’ve ever gotten, and the lesson I learned was not what they intended, but we’ll save that for another time.

My marketing teacher and I did not get along. I am not sure where. There was just something ugly about her, and I don’t mean physically, although there was nothing particularly physically attractive about her either. We didn’t get along, but what trouble me as a young man is that she made every effort to ignore my shenanigans and tried really hard to be my friend.

I’m not sure why. Maybe she was an immigrant too at some point in her life, and saw a little bit of herself in me, but regardless, the more she tried to get close, the more I pushed her away.

I am sure that part of that was having teenage bravado. I was stubborn, opinionated, going nowhere, and so when I got an assignment to create an advertising campaign, a unit I didn’t read nor pay attention to, I was a little less than excited. But there was some hope. This was a group project. Four strong teenage minds would work and create something magical. And we did.

We created D.A.R.E. It was an advertising campaign unrivalled by previous advertising campaigns. We create a crude brand of perfume. We imagined that everyone would dash a little bit of it before they headed out to work or a date and we wanted them to know that death and rape exist. We dared to make D.A.R.E. a reality and as you can imagine this was not a big hit when it was presented to our teacher, nor was it a big hit when I had to explain the campaign in the vice principals office.

Looking back now, I’m not sure why this memory came gushing out this morning, but I think it was trying to tell me something. I think it is a great example that while the office was dealing with an obvious discretion and teenage deviation of the norm, they missed something really important. They made some assumptions that they shouldn’t have. 

The powers that be assumed that I wanted a good mark and that would keep me in line, and that was not the case. I was not stupid, but I had no desire to be smart either ,and so they were at a disadvantage. But the biggest mistake was not to take a closer look as to why four young men would do something so visibly crude and stupid in a marketing class. No one asked as why we did it or what was the underlying root of it all. We were a nuisance and they wanted to clear the file. Eliminate the nuisance and return to normal.

But normal didn’t return, at least not for me, and a few weeks later they would have to deal with some degrading farm animal comments coming from me individually, but I wonder what would have happened if someone asked the right questions, and if I was open to really, and honestly sharing who I was and what I felt.

Often the there is un underlaying cause to something that is troubling us in our life. There is a root cause. Something deeply hidden and buried inside our subconscious mind. We don’t dare to get it out. We don’t watch the clues and gather evidence that is all around us. But we should because we would have greater control of our lives, and be happier for it.


Cover photo generously provided by photographer Ash Edmonds.