Just a couple of days ago, I tried to sell my math teacher this epic deal: if she paid each of us students in her class two dollars, we would each memorise two questions from the state-administered diploma we were taking the week after and reassemble the test once we were done and give it to her, which would give our school, and her class, an advantage over other schools in revision in the upcoming years.
She just laughed and ignored my deal. (But then again so did all of my classmates, who probably weren’t too keen on memorising any questions at all, let alone remembering the test.)
She then proceeded to hand out stacks and stacks of old diploma questions released by the government themselves in an effort to get us prepared for the exam.
After I finished them, I thought to myself, “Great. Another stack of paper I’ll have to deal with.”
Now that I’m actually graduating from high school, I have to seriously think about what exactly I’m going to do with a stack of school paper I’ve been collecting off and on since I was thirteen, which stands approximately my height.
Of course, there are several options my classmates already showed me:
- Chuck everything in the bin the moment the final exam is over (in the sight of the teacher who gave the papers to you).
- Burn it (metal ring folder and all, in a bonfire the size of a school bus).
Actually, that was pretty much the only two options presented to me. I guess anyone who actually recycled their paper didn’t consider it a badge of honour (or audacity) that they did so.
But looking at that stack of paper, it dawned on me that all these pieces of paper I had ever used was all for the purpose of attaining that one piece of paper that counted: my diploma. (Kind of a ridiculous exchange rate, if you ask me.)
But still, if all this paper was technically carried the same worth as my diploma, then it needed to be disposed of in a way that at least made me feel that my twelve years of school wasn’t just being, well, recycled.
I came up with a list of disposal ideas:
- Paper planes (There was a phase when I was fifteen that all my homework got the paper plane treatment, so not exactly original.)
- Kindling (Except that I actually have electricity and I’m not fond of camping, so, altogether, not a most useful idea.)
- Dog food (Kids always feed their dogs their homework… I could too. In fact, I could probably feed a dog for a year with my homework… if I could find a dog.)
- Trade for cash (I actually did very well in school…, so maybe a kid would buy the stack for say, ten bucks. Or maybe ten cents. And then have no way to fit it into their schoolbag.)
- Sample material for decryption classes (My notes also happened to be unreadable.)
- Recycling (Rather mundane, though. Just chucking my life’s work in a garbage can to be mulched. Very inspiring.)
- “Donate” it to my younger brother (Not that he needs it. But it takes the responsibility for burning it off my hands.)
But really all this musing led me to an epiphany about life: we work hard on pieces of paper to get a piece of paper that will allow us to work for other pieces of paper that happen to be green, or red, or plastic, in order to get things that aren’t paper.
Sounds awfully difficult. Is that really what being an adult is about? I mean, I never knew pulp ran our education system and our economy. I thought that that role belonged to red tape.
But, you know, we’re in the twenty-first century, the age of online schooling and bitcoin. Things are changing. We’re less reliant on paper. And if that means I never have to look at another stack of paper and realise that I literally spent my whole life on it, well, bring it on. (Well, at least, until I submit my resume somewhere. Or a manuscript.)