Nov 052021

Often times I see a piece of paper or my son’s school binder and miss my public school days. I never thought I would as they certainly weren’t easy or fulfilling overall but the days contained some gems I’ll always remember.

These jewels included a walk with a friend at lunch that made us late for math class. We didn’t go far but got completely lost, turned around and really didn’t rush back to class anyway. We just wandered and chatted and dreaded going back to the study of angles of triangles and, ironically, mazes. During that unit I also remember using a maze from a cereal box for my project as you couldn’t get more in your face than that and I desperately wanted to make the monotone teacher smile at the ingenious of it all.

While it bothers me that I didn’t remember to clean out my locker, and no, I don’t remember my locker combination and nothing really of significance was inside, I do remember learning about Socrates and Voltaire in art class. This, of course, after I got lost but had all good intentions and followed a classmate who, how was I to know, wasn’t taking art.

Most of all I remember writing notes. The feeling of loose leaf with pen, or pencil, I guess just general penmanship. That feeling of slight indentations, the softening of the page and the delight of finding just the right pen or pencil to complete the task. The pure innocence of believing it would all be such a crucial part in our lives and help to determine how successful we’d be in the end. Those marks from Outdoor Pursuits, Health class, and science (I did design the boat that held the most pennies and still floated – what do they use now, without pennies and the system too broke for nickles, I wonder.

I remember just aimlessly wandering and imagining what comes next and now it’s all about schedules, chores and expectations. It’s about how quickly you can type, ensuring spell check is on and catches everyone. Success has never really been defined, but always this elusive light at the end of a journey of obstacles, lessons and losses. Always hoping for the next achievement and level of what people perceive to be something we’re all trying to be while others are simply happy where they are.

Is technology to blame for our haste to finish a project instead of enjoying and savouring each wrong turn? Or is that our own fault of natural design and misunderstanding of what success actually is and how personal it can be. With all this talk of minimum wage and essential works, with the government speaking on behalf of the people by telling them they are not fulfilling what we should all be striving for, shouldn’t we just go back to our happy place and understand that wrong turns may not be so wrong after all? Should we try for a moment, just for a moment, to breath and focus on the written word – actual penmanship – and send a letter to a friend to be connected where Facebook or Meta, Twitter and Instagram and the world of selfies can’t offer?

Maybe we should stop trying to look happy and actually write down what makes us happy. Probably we should connect more with people who inspire, motivate and make us forget the time and the standards of living or the cost of bacon and just notice the falling leaf or the camouflaged creature of wildlife. Couldn’t we learn a lot from the swooping owl who trusts the tree it lands on? Or the deer that stands still, ever so quiet looking back?

Let’s love nature again and slow down.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah Butland

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