Paper Growing

Very rarely is it that the things that we do make an impact in the world which is larger than a ripple. I never strove for perfection in our world. For starters I do not think it can exist. For perfection to exist there must be imperfection, and hence a world that is perfect is not perfect. It is sad but that is the truth. Sometimes recognising this truth is the real hurdle that one has to face in life.

I think babies already know this truth. The mother screams for the baby’s entrance and then often falls into a state of happiness. The child wonders at the world and then often cries at frequent intervals. Such is life. You cannot have the smiles without the frowns. A baby learns how to cry early. Preparation for the rest of their life one might say. The optimist on the other side of the seat may say that to cry we must learn how to smile, and to smile we must learn how to cry. I will choose the latter if I have to pick a side. But it is not often given to us to actually choose. We are more often concerned with what to do with the time that is given to us in life. Whether we cry or smile, we are often thinking about when or why we do it. Rather than what we should be doing.

This did not mean to stretch out to connect many people, but it did. We all need something. A way to talk and communicate beyond the technology that surrounds us. Mobile phones, computers with msn messaging, Facebook, Hotmail, Gmail, and every other fabled contraption from science fiction that has already become real rather than an idea in the head which is related in blood to robots and time travel. I do not claim any rights to this movement, some say I did but many would know that it takes the person, the receiver, to do something to make this something a something.
To tell you how it begins I must start from the beginning. Please forgive my prose, I wrote this down as a memory to myself. But also to be reminded of that it actually happened, as I am yet to fully believe it now.

I was late to my first year class in philosophy. It was not an uncommon occurrence, but I hate it when it happens. It seemed that no matter how early I got up to have a shower, drink my usual cup of English breakfast tea with just a dash of milk and eaten my snapping and crackling rice bubbles, I was often late to this 9am class. I hate being even a second late. Everybody looks at you. They may not remember afterwards, which is a small consolation. But for that minute you have your fifteen minutes of fame. It is unwanted celebrity status and for a time you are put into the shoes of those who experience the paparazzi on a daily basis and receive a taste of sourness that accompanies their visits. It is at this time of 9:02, not monstrously late thank goodness, that I quietly and slowly opened the lecture hall. There must be an inbuilt alarm system into the door that I can never hear or see, but the reaction is automatic. The swivelling of heads is almost audible. I hear one person’s neck creak with the movement.

Like a band aid, is the best way to think to resolve this situation. It is from this moment on that most people break the land speed for the 100 metres from closing the door to finding a seat. Even if the only ones are at the top end of the lecture hall or paradoxically at the front. If you are unlucky, you will be right under the lecturer’s nose. Depending upon how strict they are with lateness this is a very uncomfortable position. My philosophy lecturer was nothing like this thank goodness, but there is one bear from the history department who does make you feel like you are instantly demoted to cockroach in a second. One day someone should do a study about how the middle rows are always taken before the very front and the very back.

Once seated I quickly took out my book, my pen was already inside, and I started copying down notes. Everything I could hear from the lecturer. It is a focusing technique and a relaxing one. I already feel better because I am concentrating on the words, rather than the redness from embarrassment that my cheeks are betraying to everyone looking. My lecturer, Archie, a very good name I thought for a lecturer, was discussing the merits of a philosopher named Descartes. It is important to remember that it is pronounced like “Day-cart”, not “des-cart- ez”. I learnt this the hard way.

This philosopher decided to get rid of his belief system because all he could trust that was real and true was mathematics. He thought that there were a couple of arguments why the world could not be real, such as if we are all in a dream state or if there is an evil demon trying to persuade us to believe that what we are experiencing is real, but in actual fact it is not. It is when I was thinking about this that I noticed I had a purple scrunched up post-it note in my pocket.

Darn it. I was supposed to have given this to my flatmate this morning before I caught the bus. I have to leave messages for her on her desk or else she will not look at it. I once put a note on the fridge door and she did not notice for two days! Granted it was exam time though. The jacarandas said it was so.

It did not have anything too important on it. It just said “All my hope to you for the best day”. It was one of those positive notes that I thought my flatmate needed. She had four hours of practicum today, and an assignment due at 5pm. I did not worry that she would not get it done. She was like my sister – ‘a just in time’ person. No matter what happened, everything would get done in the last minute. But it would be finished, and it would be excellent. This skill also relates to travelling, catching planes and just general getting somewhere by a particular time. I wish I had it, but I was a very much ‘need to prepare to get there on time’ person.

As I was pondering and writing notes upon the philosopher’s beliefs, there was a movement next to me. Ah, lecture break. Ten minutes to stretch, go for a coffee or bathroom run, or to sit and try and catch up on the sleep lost in the previous night. I looked around and it was surprising to see many lumped into the last category. The lecture hall in the space of 30 seconds had become a sea of green with a wash of other colours thrown in. Not good for the washing machine, especially as white has become the colour of the day. Despite not trying to make a pattern, our lecture hall had become one through the students. The majority of ‘day sleepers’ were in the back rows and slightly to the left. The coffee runners who were slowly ascending the steps with reflector lights were in the middle to the right, the stretcher occupied the middle to front left. And everyone else seemed to fit in between.

During this break I decided to be neither of any of these usual university people. I sat down and folded my purple post-it note. I should have remembered it was in my jeans, but now I will just have to wait until tonight to see how here day went. At least I should make it pretty, I thought. So I folded it into a paper crane. Sakura folded 1000 of these; I must be able to do at least one I thought.

It took me a few minutes but I got it. As I admired it, the lecture hall sprung into action with the arrival of the lecturer. Somehow the noise made my pen jittery and both crane and pen flew into the air. I retrieved my blue pencil from my feet, but the crane was nowhere to be seen. I looked for a few moments, but decided it wasn’t worth it. Oh well, it will turn up.

The lecture ended quite peacefully. No more upsets or late arrivals. Archie dismissed us with a ‘good afternoon’ and information about our assignment requirements and reminders about draft acceptances by email.

I walked out and didn’t see the crane again.

He next day I walked into my philosophy tutorial, and one student was exclaiming that the world was perfect because they got an A on their written Japanese language test. A fluke I thought. But luck he proclaimed it and presented to his best friend, one who seemed just as enthusiastic or perhaps less so than me, the paper crane. The writing was now quite smudged on account of the rain. But peering closely you can still see some words. I caught the word ‘hope’ before it was thrust back into his bag quite reverently and carried into the room.

I did not think I remembered a word from that 50 minute tutorial, but did I also think that my crane had become lucky? Not likely.

As quick as I found out about the luck of this student, no sooner did I hear that the group of mates surrounding this student had taken to folding paper cranes to send messages of hope to each other. Before long, I am not sure how long I saw paper cranes and other paper animals like a frog on the chairs in lecture halls, in cafeteria’s and coffee shops.

They were all the colours of the rainbow – blue, green, red and yes, purple. The only thing they had in common was a message… “Hope for the best day”. Some of the other words must have been smudged out.

I think people need these small messages of hope. I don’t have the heart to explain that it was meant as a kind message not a symbol of hope. Yet, as things do they develop a life of their own. What can I say, except that in this imperfection there must be something to charge the spirit towards seeing the perfection that exists, however small.

I was a gardener who did not know what bulb they grew. One person interpreted the crane and did something. Perhaps sometimes to truly create something one needs to step back and watch it grow.

Paper Growing


Joined November 2007

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