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‘The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said’ – Peter Drucker.

From my ‘Stories Without Words’ series. (Photographed at the Botshabelo Orphanage, Magaliesburg, South Africa)


During high school I spent more days gazing out of my classroom window than I did looking at the blackboard.
A memorable incident related to window-gazing happened when I was in grade eleven. (Aka standard nine or form four depending on which country you are from.)
I was in a full-on dream-sequence, and knowing me, I imagine that I was probably thinking about running toward my girlfriend in slow motion.
In my mind her hair was flowing behind her as if in water. Autumn leaves were swirling around her feet, also tumbling in slow motion, as she stretched out her arms to embrace me.
I definitely heard a soundtrack to this daydream. Based on official records it could well have been Heart of Gold by Neil Young.
Suddenly the song screeched to a halt as if someone had dragged the turntable’s needle across the vinyl record.
I felt a sharp pain in my right earlobe.
I looked up.
It was my math teacher looming over me and grabbing my ear in a vice-like grip. (My school friends reading this will know exactly who I’m speaking about.)
“Do you know why you always fail maths?” she said, smirking.
I shook my head.
“Because you are an idiot and you don’t pay attention.”
“I actually don’t understand the work,” I said, sincerely.
What I said was true. For some reason I did not have a grasp on the subject and failed to get grounded in the earlier years so the further we delved into the math mayhem, the further behind I got.
For some reason my answer irked her.
“You will not get very far in life without maths,” she said. “I wish you’d get that into your thick skull.”
“I don’t think trigonometry will help me be a better writer,” I said, not being able to hold my mouth as per usual. (I had already decided around that time that I wanted to be an author.)
“Pah,” she said giving my head a slight push. “Writer indeed.”
The boys in the class laughed. Someone shot a rubber band at me. I saw whispers behind hands. Embarrassing to say the least, but that was obviously her intention.
“I can’t wait to see where you land up after school,” she said.
Fast forward at least thirty-five years.
Here we are today.
I’m still not sure where I’m going to land up, but getting letters like the one attached to this post makes me realize that I’m headed in the right direction, despite never ever passing trigonometry.


On rough days when I feel afraid, rudderless, overwhelmed or without direction, I like to remind myself that my track record for getting through tough times is 100% so far. And that’s pretty darn good in the scheme of things.