In the Spring, as the day length increases, and the ground warms, the plants respond by coming out of dormancy, sprouting, growing, blooming. It's a wonderful frenzy of life, suddenly bursting forth everywhere you look.
Towards the end of summer, the days start to get shorter, the nights cooler. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, whether it's taking that last minute vacation, or harvesting the garden, there's another, familiar feeling that comes every year.
An urge to buy new pencils. Notebooks. Markers. Maybe a dictionary.
Even though it has been many, many years since I attended school, and my kids never did, every year at this time, that feeling of wanting to stock up never fails. It is accompanied by memories of setting an alarm for the first time in weeks, to get up before the sun, turn on the light, dress in nice clothes, and pack a backpack for the day.
I see the sales ads, with extremely low priced "loss leaders" designed to bring people into the stores, in the hopes that they'll go ahead and get everything else that they need, and the desire to go get those one cent pens is nearly irresistible. Manila folders. Three ring binders. Staples. Scissors. A ruler. Even those no-longer-really-used little white rings that you lick and stick to repair a ripped hole in your paper so you can stick it back into a binder. Rubber bands. Thumbtacks. A box of crayola crayons, 64 colors.
What on earth is really going on here?
I confess, I like having all those lovely, fresh, new supplies around. The look, the feel, even the smell of a newly opened ream of paper.
But we DON'T NEED THEM.
And never have.
So each August, I take a moment to pine for things I won't buy.
To recall the excitement of years gone by. Excitement that lasted about two or three days, if I recall correctly, before it dissolved into the same old same old, wake up late, grab whatever clothing is clean, dress in the dark and rush out the door, carrying the same things year after year. Never actually using most of those "school supplies" anyway.
I mention all this to point out something that should be obvious, but maybe it isn't.
THIS is how conditioned people become.
THIS is how difficult it can be to truly move away from school concepts.
Even without having needed "back to school supplies" for 35 years… two thirds of my life… the urge is still there.
And maybe this year, I'll succumb. Just a few new sharpies, some paper… a notebook or two. And the highlighters! Even though I've never highlighted anything in a textbook in my entire life.
That's different. :-)