It’s quite hard to find good sheep gifs (this coming from someone who has no confidence sharing gifs whatsoever). I’m still not 100% sure how you even say the word: soft “g” like “jam” or hard “g” like gonorrhoea? Anyway, the only reason I know sheep gifs are quite limited, is that I was searching for one just now, in order to visually demonstrate something that happened to me today.
I was standing outside the gates of Rachel’s new high school and the bell went off. Schools out! With all the excitement in the air of a new year. But the swarms of big children now coming towards me were completely overwhelming. How was I supposed to find my one small person in these herds of large looking people?
Teenage boys with men’s voices shouting across the quad. Revving the engines of their scooters. Girls giggling and swinging their sheafs of hair. White crop tops and ripped jeans. Kohl lined eyes and gold hoops in their ears. Because I’m old I’m invisible, so they stream past me like I’m a ghost, and they almost knock my bicycle over while they’re at it.
I kept trying to peer through the myriad of faces and bodies but godammit why are the Dutch so tall? I couldn’t see anything and was panicking that she’d not be able to find me. My one little human, connected to me with invisible strings.
Anyway, it made me think of sheep (had to circle back there). Growing up on a farm, I used to go out often with my dad when he was busy doing livestock rearing tasks. Sometimes the mother sheep had to be separated from their baby sheep (LAMBS people), in order to give them medicine. Once the task was over, these mother sheep were united with their babies and what a scene it was.
Picture one large group of hundreds of ewes, and another separate group of hundreds of lambs. They’re then let out of their respective gates and so begins the mad rush to be united with one another. The lambs all look identical to me, with my human eyes. Sure, some may have a black spot on a hind leg, and another may have a unique marking on one ear but mostly they are just beige, fuzzy and sheepish. How on earth do the mothers find their young?
Well, they start by baaing very loudly. The ewes baa and the lambs baa. It’s LOUD. They baa and rush around and smell each other and I’m not lying when I say that the whole chaotic process takes under 10 minutes to complete. They find one another almost immediately, drawn by the power of DNA, or of love, or whatever the stuff is that binds a mother and her child together so fiercely.
One minute it’s a cacophony of chaos, and the next minute the ewes are all neatly paired off with their lambs, trotting away together side by side, munching on some grass. It’s a beautiful sight. Nature doing it’s thing, so neatly, so efficiently.
Today I was the mother sheep, looking for her lamb. I’m telling you, I scanned every student that came out of those doors, looking for a certain way of walking, a certain flash of a smile, a very exact colour of a ponytail, a genetic make up that I know like the back of my hand. She is mine, after all. My bones and my blood. And when I eventually saw her, the relief was just like those mama sheep, that I had to do everything to stop myself from running towards her and smothering her with kisses.
And I guess what I’m trying to say, is that in a sea of bodies, be they sheep ones or human ones, nobody is that unique really. From the outside, it appears as a swarm of similar looking animals, all jostling for air and for space on this planet.
But to a mother, we only have eyes for one. To us, they are everything. Our worlds.
And what that shows us, above all else, is the importance of perspective. Who’s doing the looking.
Because that’s what changes everything.