Although you can buy office supplies anytime, and in any array of colors and shapes and sizes, you can buy school supplies only once during the year, near the end of summer, just as the sun is changing her course and the evenings are starting to cool off and the mornings to shorten. School supplies spell change, the end of boredom, the beginning of a new kind of tedium. School supplies leap the dread of failure with their crisp packaging and smooth newness. Anything is possible if you have an X5000 Super Writer. Surely you will win art contests if you have the box of 1500 Crayolas. Ah, the blank expanse of white (recycled) paper, college lined perhaps, complete with folder pockets and a non-tear cover is just the ticket for that math-related homework you’ll be able to finish in half the time as last year.
For some reason, school supplies don’t seem to include computer-related items in my mind (showing my age, perhaps?). I don’t see a tall stack of CDs as the idea equivalent for this generation as the notebook paper was a few decades back. I don’t see salivating over memory sticks and disk drives, while there will surely be a resistance recoup in aisle 44 if little Janie doesn’t get that Big Box of crayons (hey, who can blame her?). There’s something about the products of creation – of hands-on creation, that is – that stimulates my desire to create. I see that new notebook, and I have to just try to write something down, even though my hand will cramp and my ideas will flow over the paper like water running out of a full cup, and I’ll miss half of what I wanted to say and be unable to edit as I write. Even so, the paper is calling me, tempting me with its ruled lines and margins, reminding me that the heart of what we do is attempt to touch the stars.