“After she was enlightened and therefore wished to see
the world’s shapes and scenes and colors,
she wanted to step out over the threshold […].”
-Taslima Nasrin, “Boundary”
A few days ago there was a little branch on the road. I picked it up, felt the little ridges where it had grown leaves. Felt how the wind washed around it when I waved it back and forth. Whenever I lie down, there’s always something beneath me—a hard wood floor, or soft grass. Or goose poop quishing into my shirt. Tonight I heard my students tell stories: about their childhoods and their children, about the lakes they’d swum in and the words they couldn’t understand. Just now there’s someone walking by outside on the street, singing. The tree frogs are singing too.
I love the idea that enlightenment comes with a wish to see the world’s shapes and scenes and colors. Learning, for me, doesn’t aim primarily at understanding. My goal isn’t to wrap my intellectual arms around something, to get a firm grip on it. As that thought grew in my head over the last year, I’ve been wondering: what does my learning hope for instead? Where do I hope to be going? Tonight, reading Nasrin, I think maybe my learning hopes to get a little closer. To be part of a circle as someone looks up, letting the next word of their story come to them, and then to listen. To walk home afterward beneath rustling leaves, and hear my neighbor and the treefrogs sing.