Dinner with Life
Sometimes the meaning of childhood escapes me. If childhood is an everlasting playground, a place that annihilates realism and embraces romanticism, then I share no connection with it. I learned that my world could never be like Alice in Wonderland; there is no such thing as throwing caution into the air and wandering into the unknown to return with my innocence intact. Some believe that one’s childhood comes to an end when he or she is introduced to Death; ironically, my childhood ended when I experienced Life.
Because I have met Death, I am on a first-name basis with Life. Death snuck up on me when I was only five years old. He approached me under water and nearly got hold of me but I fought him with my whole being. Finally, it struck me that this battle was not one I could fight alone, I frantically looked around to see if anyone could offer me a hand.
Suddenly, I realized that no one noticed me.
I was alone.
I gave up.
My strength was painfully slipping through my fingers, and as my eyelids slowly began to lower, I became conscience of the fact that I was going to die. However, seconds before Death was able to possess me, Life (in the form of my sister Charline) grasped my hand and pulled me to the surface. It was at that moment, while I was desperately gasping for the breath of Life, that my innocence abandoned me.
It was time to leave the playground and stop basking in my naivety.
Before nearly drowning, I was merely sharing a meal and a few drinks with Life, as if I would see it again the next day. After that incident I realized how much of a luxury Life was. Most people get invited only once to feast with Life. For some peculiar reason I was given another invitation, and this time, I wanted to indulge myself. I promised myself three things: to never give up on myself, to appreciate every breath I inhale, and to be nothing short of great.
I figured the best way to better myself was to better the ones around me, I started volunteering at a hunger relief organization. Every Wednesday during the summer, after receiving a ten-minute lecture on how to properly wash my hands, I rationed and packaged food to be sent out to the sick and the shut-in. Although waking up early required putting a hold on recovering my sometimes nonexistent social life, it is the gratitude that I gained in exchange for that sacrifice that humbles me. I felt gratitude towards the staff for doing this sort of work for countless years and for reassuring me with a light pat on the shoulder when I made clumsy mistakes. I felt grateful for every moment I spent making a difference in someone else’s life, because as cheesy as it sounds, it made my life feel more meaningful.
Despite all of this, I know I have more lessons left to learn.
It is for that reason that I do not simply walk forward. With Life by my side, I run instead. If I must leave a few people behind in my pursuit of greatness, then it will not be in vain. If on my journey to success, I encounter a diverged road, then as Robert Frost once wrote, I shall take “the one less traveled by.” With my wisdom as my sword, and my faith as my shield, I am ready to conquer anything.
If I have already escaped Death, then what else remains?