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He’s got his life planned out. He’s got a plan. At least a little one. Me I just like looking at vague blurry pictures on Tumblr. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not mad about that, it’s just a fact. A terrifying one. He speaks well and is still going to school and I’ve been out for a year and a half now and I don’t talk nearly as smart as he does. I need to work on my vocabulary, I tell myself. I need better words.

I tell my young friend that it seems to always be like this. We talk about graduating from high school. She’s younger than my little brother by a year and a half but I like him and I still like her. I tell her all my wisdom, all that I’ve stored up and learned. Life’s like this, I say. You don’t know what you’re doing. You never do. That’s how it is. Wise stuff like that.

I look at this picture of birds flying all scattered about. It’s like that, I think. That’s exactly what it’s like.

I read terrible poems by young Bukowski and shake my head at them. I look at pictures of my grandma’s grandma and shake my head at them. No one knew what they were doing. Maybe they figured it out eventually, maybe they didn’t. Maybe there’s nothing to figure out. We’re a pack of birds or a flock of them, and here we are, all together and winging and scrambling anywhere and everywhere. Making plans and worrying and crying and reading bad poetry and trying to learn something before we take off for the real world or winter vacation or before our parents die and leave us alone here, inheritors of this.

Today I was talking to my friend about graduating college – a thing he and I both are going to experience here pretty soon – May 5th, 2013, to be exact. He was telling me his post-graduation plans, and I was keeping quiet about my own. I don’t really know yet where I’m going go, what I’m going to do. I also told him that the more college classes I take, the less intelligent I feel.

I think there’s a lot of different ways you can take that statement. It can mean that I’ve realized how unintelligent I am, or how bad at college I am – But that’s not what I meant.

I meant that the more college classes I take – the more information I take into my brain, the more subjects I get exposed to, the more history I find out about, the more people I learn about that I previously didn’t know existed – the more unintelligent I feel. I’m graduating from college soon, but I don’t feel like I know very much at all.

As my graduation date approaches, I’m beginning to wish I would have double-majored. Or took a third minor. Or majored in Theatre, or Linguistics, or French, or Biology. I’m not done learning – I don’t think I ever will be. I don’t think I’ll ever feel like I know enough – like I’m intelligent enough.

Sure, I could keep going to school for forever – for the rest of my life. Maybe I would do that, if it didn’t cost thousands of dollars per year. But people don’t go to college to learn, they go to get jobs.

So, in order to keep learning, without going to college Рwhat do I do? How do keep experiencing things in my life  which will improve my understanding of the world? Or the universe? How can I feel like each day is improving the person that I am?

Do I just have to find a job that I like? That makes me happy? Do I just use my college education for what it’s meant for: getting a higher-than-minimum-wage-paying job?

Do I travel? Do I meet and talk to new people as often as possible? Do I read books and blogs and listen to podcasts and radio programs and watch cool movies?

What do I do?

Once they had me that scrap of slightly-thicker-than-normal paper with my name on it, what do I do?

Three years ago, back in the autumn of 2010, I had an English class at my University, where all we did was read poetry and examine poetry and talk about poetry, etc. It was sort of an introductory English class, with simple goals for its students: learn how English works; learn all the little rules of grammar; learn how to read and think about writing – stuff like that. I’d had a few English classes before it, and I’ve had many since, so not much that I learned in that class has stuck with me – I made a few friends, have a few good memories, and, I’m sure, was sent away with a greater appreciation for poetry. One thing, though, from that class, has always stuck with me. Or, rather, has refused to stick with me. A poem.

I remember this poem vaguely. I remember that it was about a woman driving her car along an expressway during a traffic jam; that she noticed a flock of birds flying through the sky – I remember it was simple and beautiful and that even as a newly enrolled English Major, way back when in 2010, it spoke to me.

I’ve been searching for and wondering about this poem for a long time. Over time, I forgot who wrote it. I forgot the title. The only things I could remember were the birds and the traffic jam and that I loved it.

Now, fast-forward to 2013. I’m about to graduate college – I’m finishing up one last semester – and that poem still finds its way into my mind from time to time. Today, going through some of my files on a computer at school, I came across an old paper I typed up three years ago in that English class where we talked about poetry.

The file was called “Poetry Journal”, and I opened it only with mild curiosity, not yet realizing what I might find within it. Inside, a list of titles to several poems, with my thoughts of them underneath. I scrolled down the page, skimming with uninterested eyes. Then, I found it. My poem. The title, anyway. And the author. With a quick, excited trip to Google, I quickly found the words I had been searching for. I read it again, and I still loved it. My eyes followed along with the lines of the poem as if I had never lost it – perhaps I have dreamt about this poem many times.

It seems funny to me that the file containing the title to this poem has been around all this time, and I’ve just now found it. Maybe because I’m feeling nostalgic – I’m wondering about the person I was three years ago, when I still had so many moments to experience, so many new things to learn, so many more people to meet. Three years from now, I’ll be long gone from the University I’ve called home for so long now – and maybe I’ll find this poem again and think back to this moment.

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