I have this theory that our lives are in the hands of eighth graders.
It’s not a pleasant thought. Don’t I know it. But I can already see their sticky fingers and scrunched eyebrows and scrutinizing choices over where, oh where do I place this next piece of fabric?
Picture yourself as a square of fabric. Or a newspaper clipping. A painting from the antique shop downtown. Anything, really, that holds your heart upon its color palette and marks your soul with the sort of thing that made businessmen long ago stumble over the word Brand.
You are a brand. In the form of a fabric square. Held in the hands of an awkward eighth grader. Musing over his or her next decision in art class during fourth period, stomach churning because it’s almost lunchtime but somebody’s got to make a decision about your life.
Somebody’s got to mark the bland canvas, the wooden sphere, that holds each of us together. Binds us in its mess of mistakes and disasters and catastrophes and triumphs, though it often feels like triumphs are set back by all the umphs heading toward failure.
It often feels like it’d be easier to wait until after lunchtime before making a decision about where to place yourself on that canvas. What corner of the sphere should you papier-mâché your square of fabric?
Because once it escapes the fingertips of that eighth grader and superglues itself to a place, it feels like Losing Something. Like Permanent. Like Oh No, Why Oh Why Did I Let Myself Do That?
But if it’s any consolation—and maybe, quite frankly, it isn’t—there are thirty eighth graders in that classroom. Each with a new sphere or canvas, depending on whether they follow the logic that the earth is round or flat. Depending on whether or not they are Travelers and Explorers or Inhabitants and Dwellers.
And unless two of them push their art desks together and collaborate on creating you a habitat, a place to call Home, you’ll have thirty different answers to that question of Where Do I Belong? And What Do I Do Next?
Because your life is an art project. Imperfect and chaotic. And always starting over if necessary.
A little bit like that art classroom the seconds before the bell rings and seats squeak against the tile floor and the hallway fills with faces that have seen much different places.
Places that are given no discussion, like the closet of their bedrooms, parents’ voices coming up through the air vent at their toes. Like the speckled bathtub, when even a thirty-minute shower feels much too short.
There are places we go to get free and places we go to get away. And hopefully, you’ll find yourself in a classroom with thirty eighth graders where more than half of them wish to set you on street corners and rooftops and the crust of the world, ocean water kissing your toes.
But if not, you just get yourself down to Michael’s and buy a new canvas. Layer a new sphere. Cut a couple more scraps of newspaper or magazine articles or bits of cotton from the t-shirts of your childhood t-ball teams.
And begin again.
Until you land your nomadic self somewhere you’re proud of.
By the way, every month I send out a short + sweet newsletter brimming with cool finds related to the monthly theme. It'd be stellar if you subscribed. If it's not worthy, it doesn't go in the newsletter. That. Simple.