A Piece of Everything

Starburst by Keith Kramer //

A Piece of Everything by Alma Avdagic //

My youthful-looking acne and 5am-Homeland-bingeing eye-bags speak the opposite of the person I want to be. This person is brave and self-assured and has a perfect complexion, but I lie awake in bed sometimes and imagine what it would be like to be somebody else. Anything more. Anything different.
I read a lot of quotes telling me that I have to make things happen and there are no excuses for staying inside a small corner of the world. Quotes from people like Henry Rollins, an American musician, writer, journalist, publisher, actor, radio host, comedian, and activist. He is everything I aspire to be, “I beg young people to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kenya. Have your mind blown, eat interesting food, dig some interesting people, have an adventure, be careful. Come back and you’re going to see your president differently, no matter who it is. Music, culture, food, water. Your showers will become shorter. You’re going to get a sense of what globalization looks like...” It’s my fault I don’t travel. It’s my fault I haven’t explored and experienced. It’s my fault I am afraid. I’m running out of time.
Do you know what it means to be afraid? Like the last time you will sleep in your bed at home, the night before you set off for college or university? Or the hugs goodbye you give to your closest friends? Like when you part with promises that you’ll see each other next year and the years after that when you know this is the last time and that teenage promises stay dormant in a vat of youth? Like when you’re told of horrors in the world and you realize you don’t care? And you’re seized by terror that you’ve lost your humanity, your empathy and what is supposed to make you human? Like when you cry by yourself with a sad song or a tender moment and you just feel so alone. I do, and I am crippled by dissatisfaction and panic that there’s something I’m missing out on. Just at that moment, I was reminded of a quote by F. Butler, “everyone who terrifies you is sixty-five percent water. And everyone you love is made of stardust, and I know sometimes the night sky is no home, and you have cried yourself to sleep enough times that you are down to your last two percent, but nothing is infinite, not even loss. You are made of the sea and the stars, and one day you are going to find yourself again.”
Do you know what it means to live? Like the time you ran down a hill like a maniac, screaming your head off, wind in your hair, skin burnt dry by the oxygen that engulfs you; that takes your breath as often as it gives. Like the time you felt your heart break for any reason; a dead pet, a lost friend, some part of yourself that was left behind in the race to grow up. I do, in a world of social media; there are plenty of reminders about how lackluster my life is. I feel at blame that I haven’t given everything up to have an adventure. I am made to be ashamed that I sit in the confines of security and just exist quietly while other people are ‘truly living.’ I don’t know these people, but they are there and they are always the ‘other’ ones.
“You know what,” someone said to me, “You can have everything. You’ve just got to have the balls to do it.”
“But I’m a girl, I don’t have any balls.”
“Ovaries, then. Whatever.”
So, where is my ‘everything?' How am I supposed to accomplish this ‘everything?’ Do I give myself up to impulse? But if you get everything you want the minute you want it, what’s the point of living?
I have a life that is devoid of drama. My parents are not divorced. My sister is responsible and financially-aware. My cats only bite me on occasion. I have the privilege of feeling content and safe. My world looks like a small one, and I admit, I am always suffused with jealousy when I hear somebody who travels extensively, because they seem to live so much larger than I do. The thing is, we confuse a colorful life for a dramatic one. It leaves me feeling hopelessly inadequate because my anecdotes consist more of study-jokes than of backpacking in India.
Do you know what it means to die? To be swallowed by an unknown emptiness. To never understand where you will go. To dip a foot into that 'undiscovered country' and feel the full weight of your being pulled under. To tease the frailty of your own mortality. To touch your skin and feel every molecule crumble. Like the fear of life and of death and of every moment in your desperate, struggling, beautiful life that is so worth it. I do, I’ve died a thousand times.
Why do I need to look for ‘everything?' Why is my final destination never the one I’m already at? Maybe joy is simple. Maybe it’s as simple as a smile or some sunshine or the essay you’ve finally finished to perfection an hour before it’s due. Maybe I already have my ‘everything’ and it’s not about going somewhere else but staying right here with the old and familiar and knowing that’s okay.