As a teenager, while in high school, I used to spend more time writing and reading (about different topics) rather than paying attention to what was happening inside the classroom. In my mind everything was pretty clear, I was a world-class writer and poet waiting to be discovered.
In ninth grade after an endless summer, I meet our new Portuguese teacher, an old man with a funny smile and even funnier clothes. In few minutes I knew he would identify my literary super powers and would not bother me much during the rest of the year, allowing me to go back to my “cave” together with my thoughts (my hair at that time helped me on that mission).
Our very first assignment was a small piece about the quality of the time we spent away from school. After reading the task, I had the idea to go in a different direction. In less then an hour I was able to craft a prose that would put me close to the Nobel prize. Nothing related with the vacations.
One week later, when the teacher hand me my “masterpiece” graded, I almost fainted looking at the amount of red paragraphs at the bottom of the exercise.
Not only did he dare to fail me but also wrote something that stayed in my mind all these years.
- Life its hard! Either you accept that and turn it into a journey of constant surpassing or you fail.
Don’t remember much more, but for sure that was not the easiest year of my academic life. It took me years to understand why he did that, but little by little I think got there. I understood the incredible act of love he was performing, most likely with more pain than myself. He was living his own words.
Many year later we crossed paths in a class reunion and I took the opportunity to remind him about this story and thank him for such an important lesson. I asked him how could I repay him for it.
Again that same funny face and clothes, smiled at me and said;
- Easy! Become a teacher and do the same to others.
Before going away, Prof. Mourato turned around and with genuine interest, asked me one more thing:
- Did you ever finish your book ?
Time passed, countries passed, many things passed (included my hair) but I actually managed to combine different professional activities always together with teaching. Since that day, I understood that as long you continue to surpass yourself, you will never fail.
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PS* This picture was taken 10 years after the class reunion, on the day I launched my first book.