Imagine being a character in a book, the story is the world that you live in. You can pick and choose the character whom you desire to be. You experience the same love they express. The same pain they feel. You are that person. You are one. And you wouldn’t know that because you ARE that person.
Wouldn’t that be a dream come true? The last, unflawed wish the genie had granted you? A final farewell to your old, ridiculed self?
Maybe you understand what I am saying perfectly because of how imperfect it is.
Let’s say you are walking down Fifth Avenue, through the rugged yet enticing streets of Manhattan. You pass by a tall, South Asian woman wearing a tailored suit, hair tightly braided into a complex updo. What is the first thing you think of? “Wow, what a beautiful and charismatic lady. She’s probably on her way to work, a business front with over a million in stocks and hundreds of employees. And when she comes home to her silver-lined apartment that she owns, she is delightfully greeted with her Yorkshire-Beagle mix and her equally powerful husband.” Then, a beat later, you think, “What is wrong with me?” You find a place to sit amongst the arrogant pigeons and the blackened gum. You look up to the sky, wailing inside your head, “Why can’t I BE like that?”
I am pretty sure everyone has thought of this at one point in their lives. Jealously. Impatience. An emptiness…you feel that you can do so much better. YOU can be the lady whom people envy. You spend your afternoons begrudgingly laying on your plush Ottoman sofa, biting your lips and twiddling your toes.
And that is when you start to spiral down a never-ending staircase, going lower and lower until nothing is tangible anymore; you grasp onto empty air.
And no one will ever know. Or maybe someone will know, one day. Who knows.
But as the limbic system in your brain screams at you that you are not enough, that you are unworthy, you get up. You brush the dust off your clothes and the string in your hair. You feel your right frontal cortex begin to thrum and pound. You suddenly remember the essay contest that you won in the third grade, the time you placed first in the weekly newspaper Sudoku challenge, the time you concocted the best egg-and grilled cheese sandwich you ever tasted.
A rope is brought down to you, amidst the physicality of the staircase. It swoops down until it reaches you. And it is strong, because it is what is coming from inside you. You laugh, running your hands along the smooth fibers and strands. Then you latch on, knowing it’ll bring you up once again.
One of the reasons as to why it is so hard for people to be happy, because it is simply too easy to be sad. What comes a second later or a year later is unknown. You are unaware of the future, and you fret about what is to come.
But what is life? Life…it’s something that every single living molecule in this world has to overcome. Life is an obstacle, yes. But in the midst of the struggles, there are chances.
Chances to reevaluate all the things you have done in your life…and all the things you haven’t done yet.
You may think that the world is a generic place. That everyone thinks the same, that your mind’s voice speaks of thoughts louder than your mouth. But this generic place is the blank canvas. It’s the paper that we can write on, it’s the paper that we can paint or glue or tape or lie down or kiss or hug or rip or kill or cut or spit or cry.
That is why Malala Yousafzai is the incredibly brave young woman who have fought for woman rights. That is why Steve Jobs was the founder of the world-wide influential technology corporation. That is why Michael Phelps brought home eight gold Olympic medals.
But Malala is also the woman who has been shot at three times at the hands of a terrorist. Steve was also the man who was fired from the business that he created. And Michael is the man who suffers from ADHD and depression.
They are people who have grasped onto the rope tightly when threatened to be let down again. They are humans who had avoided the genie situation. They are humans who took one look at the canvas, and despite its rips and tears, created a masterpiece.
What do you know? They are all humans, just like you and me.
And when the genie smiles at you, beckoning you with a finger, tell him to buzz off. When you see the South Asian woman on Fifth avenue, admire her but nothing more. And when you are slowly walking down the spiral staircase, turn right back around and go up.
Why? Because you are human. And you are you. No one else