One Sentence Which Changed My Life

Todd Brison
2 min readJan 3, 2017

My English teacher grabbed my backpack through a sea of students and pulled me back.

Then he said this:

“Your father was a great writer too.”

I had written a sonnet. A dumb sonnet. It was about sleds. And snow. The assignment was to write a poem of any kind.

Did I write a haiku? No. Standard ababab scheme? Of course not.

I wrote a sonnet, inspired by the Bard himself (whom I claimed to hate I the time).

Moreover, it felt easy. The rhyming scheme came naturally to me. It was a the best kind of challenge.

(On this day, I learned working at what you love often doesn’t feel like work at all.)

“Your father was a great writer too.”

He was, wasn’t he?

When I heard this, I started to connect the other dots in my life long forgotten:

  • Dad wrote for the local paper in his spare time, and I followed him around.
  • He and I were making up stories when I was kindergarten.
  • The novel he never took the time to write because my brother and I were born.

It wasn’t really cool to write in high school. It wasn’t cool to read either, for that matter. I did both of these things anyway, almost as if I was called to them.

Like most pivotal moments, this one didn’t feel so life-changing at the time. I’m pretty sure I shuffled off awkwardly, gave an embarrassed chuckle when my friends made fun of me about it, and tried not to attract attention the next few classes (who wants to be a teacher’s pet?)

But every time I tell this story, it means more to me for two reasons:

#1) I wasn’t just “good” at something. I was “good like my dad”

My dad — the single most influential male in my life for 16 years.

Nobody talks about father/son Relationships much. But they matter a lot. I admired my dad. Now someone told me I had the potential to be him?


#2) An authority figure told me I had talent.

How many people go through school without such affirmation? How many people are still never told how good they are? How many people go through life without the recognition they deserve?

This is the reason I pay affirmation forward with every chance I get. Would I still become a writer even without Mr. Bone’s compliment? I don’t know. Probably. Maybe.

Here is what I do know:

Art can be your legacy or your destiny.

It just so happens that for me, it’s both.

There are also a few other reasons I pay affirmation forward

— TB