Nature has Become Sentient in Us

When you’re in seventh grade (and you’re me at age twelve) and you find out right before you’re supposed to present the homework assigned on the previous day that you did it wrong, you panic.

I remember the first kid got up there and showed his drawing:

“Well this section has musical notes on it, because I like music.”

oh no

The assignment was to create our own personal coat of arms. How was I supposed to know it was meant to describe us personally?! Our interests, the things we do for fun, the arbitrary activities in which we indulge when we get down to the real business of living, between some time in mid afternoon and dinner…

“Alright who’s next…John!”

Later in the year, our rather intense teacher was so upset with our class that at the end of the day after the bell rang, she forced us to sit in silence before leaving, and called our names one by one to leave. She chose our names in reverse order of how much we annoyed her disrespectful we were. How humiliating, being the first name called…

“Well, here’s my coat of arms…”

Let it be over quickly!

“Here is Earth….”

I’m shaking. Probably.


Everyone’s eyes.


Oh God. The eyes.

“…and fire.”

I stammered. I don’t remember stammering, but I was probably stammering.

“Oh, cool. So it’s like the elements.” I don’t claim to remember verbatim what the teacher said.


So I sat down and attempted to deal with the thought of having done the project wrong. I was being too playful somehow. Or too serious.

I made a mistake. A misjudgment.

One which must be corrected…


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