Shelves and shelves of books, their pages casting a dusty, inky scent into the air. The lights overhead flick to life as I pass through, breathing deeply. Hardly another soul breathes in the bookish air, the semester having just started. A couple of tables I pass have backpacks at them, but their occupying students seemed to have vanished.
I keep going, heading to the back of the stacks, meandering between rows, checking the signs for the aisle I need. It feels good to be back here again, on the search for answers to my musings, on a journey toward learning something new.
At the end of the aisle, I sink down, perusing the titles, pulling books from the shelves, flipping through pages, evaluating them. I sit so long that the lights flick off again, but the late afternoon sun coming through the windows casts a warm glow. As I’m sitting there, I realize that I will probably never stop wanting to be a student. I love this life, the sense of purpose it gives me. For me, there is nothing quite like having a sense of purpose and taking the journey to achieve that purpose.
Bright white walls. Finished cement floors. High ceilings. Natural light. Long, wide tables. Computer stations.
The room has an at ease, yet productive quality about it, like the way a newly cleaned kitchen looks on the precipice of a baking project. Everything is ready for incredible creation to begin.
I’m still unsure of what to expect, feeling slightly awkward in my identity at this moment. The way I see myself is not the way others see me and I am feeling intimidated by this clash of identities and the idea that brought me to this room. The room, however, is helping to sooth my worries. It holds not a glimmer of intimidation, but rather of anticipation.
I settle in and am immediately welcomed by another student, conversation filling the spaces between perceptions. Our professor joins in the conversations upon his arrival, and I know immediately that this was the right choice to make. He is calm and encouraging, there to help us succeed in pursuing whatever our hopes and goals may be.
And for me, that hope is to dive into a new area of study and see where it takes me.
Piece by piece, my grandfather used to say. That’s the way to patch a hole, fill the gaps.
His thick fingers moved deftly, twisting together frayed wires, tacking in pieces of wood. Bit by bit, we moved down the miles of fences.
With the hot sun overhead and the dust blowing off the dirt road, all I could wonder is that he spent so much time talking about those damn fences. I didn’t see the point. At seven I’d made it clear that there was no way I was going to be a rancher and live my life by fences and cattle, dirt roads and manual labor. I didn’t want to have to worry about the state of the fences or put so much importance on the way to fix them.
All those summers and I never realized that those lessons weren’t about the fences.
They were about life.
Each post a person. Each wire, each slat of wood the events and ties that hold us together.
In these last years, whenever I stopped in to visit, he talked about the fences and I realized that one by one my posts were falling to the ground, uprooted from the earth. The wires binding them stretched and snapped. He was telling me what I didn’t want to see. The snow and wind had taken their toll. I let them batter my fence and tear it down. He was telling me this in the kindest way possible: by talking about those fences we’d repaired when I was a child.
You were my last standing post, Grandpa, and the wire between us was so strong, so steady until the end. So many of us here were lucky to be your posts. So many of us are at a loss of how to keep going without your constant wisdom, your gentle kindness, but Grandpa, I know what to do. You said it yourself.
The last few weeks have been a bit scattered on my blog and I haven’t connected as much as I would have liked to, especially with new SnapThoughts followers (P.S. I am so excited that you found my blog! If I haven’t already, I’ll be following you back!). Life’s been a bit crazy (hints the really odd, up and down posts) but I am pulling my life and self together as much as possible. Which, in reality, means that I am making decisions and not looking back!
One of those decisions is to do something a little crazy, something I’ve put on the horizon for a while now but haven’t reached until this juncture, and that is to submit some of my photos in an art show/show them around town. During my time in Korea I took a good many photos, of which several hundred I sorted and posted while living abroad. Now that I am back in my hometown, I would like to share my love of Korea with my community. The problem is, I don’t know which photos to pick! So, I thought that I would pass them by all of the wonderful people who have found their way to my blog and offered their kindness, encouragement and friendship.
In the gallery here are 16 photos (named A-P for simplicity’s sake) that won in my own personal evaluation of my Korea collection, but I need to narrow that down to say 5-7 photos for printing. If there are some photos that really catch your interest, I would love to know! You can pick as few or many as you would like from the poll below.
Thank you so much for your input and help! You are the best 🙂