School Books And Sheep

School books are stacked on my desk, never to be needed again.  At least, that’s what everyone says.  Funny how books simply stuffed with information are considered so useless the moment they aren’t required.

School is over.  Tall grass tickles my ankles as I walk out the back of my house.  Do not misunderstand me, I am not terribly sad to see it end.  I was not one who enjoyed school.  I was not good at it.

But my word, did I try.

I wanted to hold on to everything I learned and I wanted to stay ahead of deadlines.  I wanted to make the most of all those classes and hours spent wracking my brain for answers.  It’s just that my mind has a way of shelving it all wrong, and now it’s made a library of loose papers stacked without order.  A hoard, I suppose.  

A hoard of things I desperately gathered but cannot access.

The gate to the back pasture wobbles as I climb over it.  I used to be small enough to squeeze through, back when I didn’t care that the wind tied knots in my hair or that the grass stained my clothes.  

This place used to feel like a different world.  I could imagine it to look like and have whatever I wanted, a limitless place outside of reality.  Some of that childhood magic still clings to the ground and it soothes my jumbled thoughts.  In the distance, I see a flock of sheep in whites and browns.  I’ve spent most of my summers with them in our various pastures, but this particular one is my favorite, because when I’m here I can’t see the house and it feels far away from the pressures of time.

Everyone wants to know what I plan to do next.  

I tell them I want to have my own flock of sheep and move far away from cities and towns, perhaps coming back to civilization once a year for sheering.  I tell them I will read all the books I’ve been meaning to read and I will write poetry and I will finally be at peace.

They don’t believe me, and I can see how crazy my plan sounds to them, even if they don’t say it.  That’s alright.  I know it wouldn’t work out like that. 

It isn’t really my plan.

I’ve only just come home, so the flock is wary when they notice my approach.  I keep my distance, sitting some distance away and watching, letting them warm up to my presence once again.  In time, they will gather around me and follow me and make it difficult for me to leave.

The truth is I just want to find a way to learn that sticks, and I want to grow more kind, and I want to figure out what I think and how I work.  Perhaps later, however long it takes, when I know more . . . 

Then I will decide what to do next.

I don’t say this to the people who ask, however, because people aren’t usually satisfied with a plan that doesn’t have an ending.  I suppose we don’t like the uncertainty of the future.  How little control we have over it.  That’s just the thing though; even if I make a plan and stick to it, the future remains a mystery and so does my path through it.

What I see is what is in front of me, and the possibilities for what could lay beyond.  It’s frightening and exciting and overwhelming, and it fills me with an urge to disappear.  Run away.  Away from making decisions and mistakes, away from questions and watching eyes, away from stretching and growing pains.

The wind plays with my hair like a long lost acquaintance trying to reconnect.  I tell my heart to stop racing off with my thoughts, I’m not running away.  Instead, I will venture out another step.  And then another after that.

Perhaps I will never open my school books again, or perhaps I will.  I don’t know yet if I will use them again, but I hope someday I will be curious and open their pages.  I hope someday their words won’t bounce off the walls of my mind but instead fit into an empty slot and settle there.

I hope I learn to be a little more discerning.

A little less afraid.

A little more ready for the next step I take.

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