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The sun blankets the sand with its warmth, the wind kisses the air with chilly gusts. I sit immersed in the sensations and watch as a little boy walks approximately ten meters to reach his mother. It takes about 20 minutes for him to reach her. He must stop at every stick or stone he sees to examine it, and show it to his mother for her approval. My eyes ponder the way she nods and smiles, sometimes adding in a simple “wow,” and then pushes her son to move along.
The little boy is alive. This is not the simple use of the word alive in which the word purely describes an organism that has a capacity to grow and adapt. I can clearly see that this boy is alive in that way, but there is more to him. He is alive in the way that everyone around him can feel the vitality. Maybe a better word for this would be present, but present does not fully express the intense thrill that encompasses every one of the small boy’s screaming bursts. The boy is alive to me. He is living in the second that is now passing. In this moment there is not a single thing wrong, and each moment just folds into the next without missing a note. The little boy plays along with the moment’s folds, understanding what I cannot.
I often wonder why it is so hard for me to live like this boy. Why is it that I am often frightened of the idea of picking up each and every one of the stones that intrigue me? Sometimes the rules that find their place in my mind can be broken. I have to convince myself that my instinct to go roll in the sand like a child, is there for a reason. I have to blur out the thoughts of what will come after the excitement of the sandy dive. All they show me is that I will be dirty, and why does that scare me so much? My body and mind are pulled in two directions.
The fear clenches me. It is a fear of seeming ignorant to society. This fear of getting dirty, of breaking the rules, of not being normal, of appearing idiotic. This fear once caught me in the middle of a parks field. It just rained as a friend and I wandered through the grass. When we approached the center, my body jumped with excitement. A wet pool of mud, just begging to be played in, came into view. My feet wanted to dive into the drenched earth, but my consciousness wanted to stay comfortable in my warm rain clothes. “We should jump in” I offered and right as I was trying to sum up the courage to face the pool of mud, my friend spoke.
“Eww but look how gross that puddle looks…we could get sick.” Her words echoed the thoughts in my head that I was trying so hard to shake. The moment she said them they began to overpower my desire to slide in the mud. I convinced my instincts to just fizzle down. I was afraid to be seen as someone who was not aware that the puddle was dirty. I was afraid of myself tasting life. A fear that the little boy walking in front of me is happily lacking.
Why is it that this fear is engraved in my mind? Why is it that it seems to hold me back from jumping into the ocean with all of my clothes on? Or streaking through a field at night? or screaming the second my body feels the need? Why does it hold me back? Because when I do these things I feel my body pulse. I feel skin breathe. I feel the reason for life as it sees its way through my existence.
What usually happens is that I start ignoring my instincts, I tell them to just quiet down because I have obligations. I have too many things to take care of to allow myself to let go. Doing this just quiets my instincts to a whisper, they are still powerful but they are not as motivated as before. When I listened to them everyday, they were so loud they screamed. I want that back, but it is frightening. Just start slow I tell myself. Small things will make those voices stronger. The routines do not help, the constant pressure from this society to turn into an automaton, it kills something inside me.
Mental illness runs strongly through my family, could the suicide attempts from my sister and mother have stemmed from this depression that comes from being programmed. The empty bottle of Aleve, with my mothers body lying near it, she did not want to continue in this constant uphill battle. My older sister holding her blood soaked arms out in front of her, struggling to show me. Breaking loose from societies plan, was something both of them wrote about in the small snippets of journal entries my eyes peaked at as a child. I believe I finally understand why their minds and bodies were in a constant fight. My mind and body are in a constant fight.
The routine that my mind forces my body to fall into makes life seem pointless. How do some humans find purpose in routines? I do not believe they make any part of life progress. But if I break these routines will all the others label me ignorant? Why is my mind so afraid of just appearing to be outside of societal norm. All my body strives for is finding the dirty, cold, earth. The world teaches my mind to compete against my bodies instincts, I become mechanic. With the only emotions left inside me looking like a locked cage of repressed depression.
I try to not let myself spiral down that path of helplessness and hopelessness, but it is difficult. It feels as if I am constantly existing against the grain of these instincts. I really do believe that I have the ability to be as alive as the boy who picked up every stick or stone. I believe that I can be alive in the confines of this society.
My heart will pump the flood of life through each creves, as my bare feet feel each chill of earth. My lungs will fill as my mouth shouts to the world above and below me. I will be alive, in every movement. Just like the little boy walking on the sand, I will be alive.