That is how I feel. The sheep almost exclaimed the five words. It was as if they were the ultimate summation of what felt like an internal exhaling. A sudden sigh, as if he consisted of a room pregnant with blind people, not knowing they were about to let gravity have their way with them and their weight and certainly not knowing where the sound would come from once their bums lowered and would touch the pouf. When you sit yourself down on that specific type of furniture, it’s one of the most unflattering things you ever see a grown man do, let alone a pregnant woman. The difference in height is just off.
And then there is this becoming a witness of slow motion life, because first there is the touching of the pouf, the sound of it, poof, and then a slow motioned lowering, it’s like you sitting comes before the poof realizing he has just witnessed this struggle between gravity and reality and finally gives in.
That is how I feel, sheep exclaimed in his memory. With those words he somehow verbally ended something that he had been struggling to put into words for ages and pages. He finally saw he needed to put his inner-sheep into a visual and not drench or dress it in word vomit.
He suddenly saw it so clearly, immediately accessible to the heart, for his continuing repeating of the phrase that he felt different wasn’t going anywhere, and hadn’t brought him anywhere either. He felt stuck. Stuck in words. Lost for words.
This is how I feel, the sheep said, not knowing if they now understood too, for the bridge between him and others almost always seemed impossible to cross. Bridge too far perhaps. He had always been on their side, explaining that was not where he came from originally, but because they didn’t believe it, he tried harder to explain it and got so good at it that it lead to even greater disbelief. He felt like a Hebrew sheep, who had learned eight different ways how to say in English that he doesn’t speak English, because as a reaction on his first ‘non-speaking-English-phrase’ he always got a reply that he spoke it very well and that his accent was remarkably flawless.. utterances (or compliments) he obviously didn’t understand because he didn’t speak English. So he learnt more ways of saying he didn’t speak the language. The more ways he found, the more they didn’t believe him. Eventually he stopped talking. Unfortunately they didn’t stop not believing.
I can paint the world with words telling them how I feel, and who I am, and the only thing they will see is art, the little sheep thought. If art is what they tend or want to notice, then I will use that level to communicate. If they don’t listen, maybe they will see?
And he gathered the other sheep around.
We are all sheep, right? He asked.
The flock nodded. Some bleated. Others agreed silently, because that is what sheep are allowed to do.
And you also feel that you are sheep, right? He asked.
Again a flockfull of head bopping, sheepish agreeing and silent bleating.
It is not just when you are gathered together, right, that you feel sheep, he continued. When you are alone, you are still who you are. You feel the same, you look the same.
The flock didn’t understand so many questions that could only be answered affirmatively. Usually they didn’t nod all that much, except when the clover they chose to eat that day decided not to grow in handy compact bushes but spread themselves around over the meadow. Only then sheep had to lower their heads constantly, one clover at a time, moving on, another clover to bow down to.
But for anything else, they sufficed following the first nodder. Since they were all the same, why try to want to be an individual and slow the herd down by first thinking to yourself if you agree with something. Before you know it, you’re the last one jumping the fence. And every sheep knew; when it came to fleeing from a predator, that wasn’t always the best place to end in the fence-jumping-competition.
So, we’re all sheep here, and you feel all sheep, everywhere, said the little sheep. Tell me this then; When you go home, where do you hang your coat? Sheep asked.
Coat? Did we hear it wrong, some sheep thought. Maybe he meant to say boat, because some sheep did like to go fishing from time to time. They never caught anything though, but the experience was nice enough to count as fishing.
Yes, coat, when you take your coat off, where do you leave it? Sheep asked again.
Coat? The flock was out of other options that rhymes with coat so they kept silent. There is a time to ask and a time to listen.
Yes, coat, sheep said. That fur thing, that wool that surrounds you, what do you do with it?
The flock jumped, as if Startled by an electric current. Thoughts were flying everywhere. What are you talking about? It doesn’t come off, the flock replied in an echo of Twenty. It sounded as if they were standing in a cave, and every word bounced against at least one stony side. it.. it.. doesn’t.. off.. doesn’t.. come.. it.. come.. off.. off.. off.. doesn’t..
When the echo lost much of her reverb, the little sheep looked around and closed his eyes for all the seconds that made up for the minute of silence that gave him the validation of years of trying to convince himself that he wasn’t crazy, or disproving to others that he was, and residing in substituting the word crazy for different, because when you change a word, you change a reality. After this minute, that held him like his mother’s womb would never do again after his first breath in life, he exhaled,..
‘This is how I feel’, he said. And he took his coat off.