James always wondered what he could accomplish in life. He had grazed in a couple of meadows, met a couple of girly sheep, had his share of clover stuck between his teeth and memories of jumping in mud pools instead of over it, saw baby lambs being born, even at one time saw how a baby lamb was in the making. He had been around. But that was exactly it. There was some roundness in his life and no matter how big he made his circle of walking, he always ended up with himself.
We decide to give James some wood. We had super special memories of the wood, for it was taken from the fence we built last year. We weren’t too sure though to tell James that somehow the measuring device we used the first time was a little skewed and ended up having to saw all the 170 pieces of wood again, leaving us with these little chips to show as evidence for that wonderful memory.
We wondered what he ‘wood’ do now. The more wood we gave him, the more excited he got. I can build a tower with these things, James thought. But because we are the herder of our sheep, we also hear his thoughts, so he might as well have spoken out loud.
I can build a huge tower from this wood, James said. The more wood, the higher the tower, that is to say, if I choose to build it going up to the sky, I mean, I can also choose to build it lying down, then it will be called a ground-scraper instead.
Oooh, what wonderful wood this is, James said, I am going to use each and every one of you guys to work with me here now, I need all of you, because a tower can only come into being if the individual parts hold on to each other. And when they make it to the top, they can let go being individual parts and just be a tower. James knew that words itself will keep the individual parts together, as if the word was embracing each and every one of the letters that he consisted of, in this instance a tower, being grateful for being built.
James took that saying that one has to start at the beginning to a different level: you have to begin on the floor. Yes, nosheep ever ended in the mud before actually jumping in it. Nosheep ever was born before somesheep lovingly longed for him. Nosheep ever was shaven before he grew wool.
This is the tricky part, James said, because the first floor will determine the shape of the tower. If I make it out to be looking like some sort of square, chances are that my next move will be in that same direction. Yes, it’s the same with walking: you can’t go anywhere when your left foot steps forward and then your right foot steps backwards. Foot basically have to follow each others footsteps and in doing so they lead.James had so much fun! He liked the smell of it as well, and decided it was going to be a tower of scent. What sheep do in a flock, the soft bleating that they do, that is sometimes perceived as singing, is what wood does with scent, he perceived It gives off this vibe of a memory of where it once was. It holds dear to being that tree that once embraced all the individual rings building up to its stature.
Suddenly James remembered the Jenga game that he never saw us play. But he knew we knew about the game and sometimes we exchanged our knowledge with James, so us knowing became him knowing. And James knew about how Jenga was this adult version of shamelessly and openly being allowed to revert back to a two-year old, where you could knock the blocks over that your dad had just towered. With Jenga it was the exact opposite, since adulthood appeared to be the exact opposite of a juvenile lifestyle. Don’t knock things over! It was a pleasure seeing James like this, knowing his thoughts, following his decisions, hearing his memories, seeing him being totally caught up in what we gave him.
And he built the tower higher and higher.It’s almost coming alive, James said. Well, I may perceive it this way because of its height only, so just delete what I just said. But just in case it is alive, can I give it a name? Can it be my friend? Can I lean into it when I am lonely? Can I ask it to tell me of the memories that it contains? I mean, I built it, then it’s mine, right?
Just look, Pota, look at the impressiveness of what I perceive as my product and therefore ‘me’. We looked. But what we saw was James having his focus totally away from us, not with his eyes, but with his heart. We look at James, knowing he was our sheep, knowing the memories that were hidden and stuck and carefully placed in his wool, knowing he would be lost if he didn’t know that because feet follow each others steps, they lead. It was as if we saw a mud pool being excited over being there and being jumped in. As if we saw the sweater being proud for the sheep color that she had. The higher the tower became, the more it was away from the ground, where we placed James to be, to eat, to walk, to graze. He was stepping away from gravity and his mind floated along with it.
‘Sweety’, we said to James, ‘this tower is amazing. But this tower is not you. This tower came out of your creativity and it’s absolutely stunning that you came up with the idea, but wouldn’t it be more exciting to be excited about the fact that it was YOUR creativity? Something that was in you all along? And you got a tiny glimpse -this time in the form of a tower- of what creativity can look like, but the tower will fall one day, or you even get bored smelling it, so let’s not name it, okay?’
Then we noticed how James started perceiving the tower the way we did. Just that. A tower. He was proud of himself and remembered how it started; how he received the pieces of wood from us. By his blank stare we knew he didn’t understand the full scope of it, how he couldn’t make the connection between being born with creativity and being given pieces of wood.
And as if the drops of water in the sea weren’t abundant enough, we fell in love deeper with James and it was us who were proud to herd him. And secretly we snickered, thinking how this story would have played out if we have given him 170 marbles.