The Surfer

My jaw dropped in disbelief. He must've emerged from the water, changed from a wet suit to a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and drove straight to campus. He walked barefoot to class, his shoulder length blond hair still wet from surfing. He was an unconventional student and had trouble conforming to class assignments. He often had to re-do his work because he presented out of the box ideas rather than follow instructions. He talked the "dude" language and at the same time, he was philosophical and poetic. In fact, he was dismissed as someone who probably wouldn't make it too far in his career.

Although I thought he was a bit off, I did admire his creativity. In Design class, he constructed a box made out of cardboard. He placed it on an incline, pushed it with his finger and it unfolded to a flat surface in one motion. He also shared his philosophy and his poetry to explain his thought process behind his project. On one of our lighting classes, he chose a crumpled paper as a subject rather than a product. He showed me the polaroids and I thought they were brilliant. He once submitted a photograph of a perfect wave in the ocean but the instructor gave him a bad critique simply because it was not what the assignment called for.

Right after he finished his portfolio review before graduation, he sat down beside me in the library and confessed that the panel gave him a failing mark. He was always good natured but this time, he had a straight face. He felt dejected. I tried to cheer him up. I told him how I loved the box he did in Design class and the crumpled paper he photographed in our lighting class. "It's just that the panel's expectations are different from your creative thinking." I advised him to just do the portfolio according to what the panel wanted but to continue to do the kind of work that he loves. I assured him that there will be other people that will appreciate his images. He thanked me for the encouragement then he walked away.

For some strange reason, I recently thought about him, probably brought about the news that the Montecito campus was closing. I looked him up in the web and I am happy to say that he has proven the naysayers wrong.