Trade-Off


There was a transitional phase in my life: the craziest, wildest, silliest time ever yet it was so beautiful and now, as I am ripping it out of my heart for good and accepting it as passé, I ask myself one question I never needed to ask before: does the part of me which dies with that phase take away with it the last ounces of my childhood innocence? Does it really have to be one or the other? Can I not keep both- my innocence as well as the lessons I have gained? Must one make way for another?

I know how hurt I used to get- it did me no good, I believe, but it gave me some of my deepest emotions. No longer can I understand the need to pine for people I barely knew, idolize them into a character out of one of my books and then hero-worship them to the point of obsession until, typically, they were grandiosely revealed for what they truly were with a single, magnificent stroke- they were unmasked and another part of me which believed in fairy tales and in heroes and in love-stories and knights in shining armors- died, much like in the movies.

I kept the cycle up. Continuously, without fail. Blindly, I tried to wrestle against everything that pushed me back. There were two things I could have done: gone down with my skin or shed it and moved on for good. I recall the conflict- its remnants still echo within me but ironically, I now miss the battle I think I won. It was the battle that had fuelled my faith-the battle that had created my make-belief, fed my fire of teenage dreams gladly, and devouring my practicality and rationality as a price. It was that battle which had revealed the Atlantis of my childhood to me- a glimpse of the glimmer through the fast gathering clouds. Because how far will you fight? If you are holding fort alone and the walls around you are collapsing and tears are of no help except to reveal, time and again, that you are vulnerable and that you belong to God and are still as alive as you were when He made you; and you see that there is no one to listen to your lament, how long will you survive? What chances do you possess? The chance to die or the chance to change: simply, these are your only two bets.

I remember some of my cycling expeditions through a world I would rather not name- listening to, ‘I believe, for every heart that whispers in the dark, there’s a ray of light somewhere, shining through’. I remember the countless hours I could spend discovering the shapes of the clouds or the patterns of stars in a nighttime sky or the times I stood in the wind, uplifted and hopeful- hoping I would be saved and delivered to my Atlantis. I never was.

And yet I am alive. And I am alive only because I change. Yes, I recognize and acknowledge the battle I fought. The two ways to look at it are: with a bitter regret, which I am prone to feel whenever I remember the vulnerability I can no longer feel inside me, or with a sense of peace that this is how life goes and this is the price I had to pay in order to continue living.

Was the price worth my life? Or are those who die without being sold better off? I still struggle with the shattered pieces of what had once been my complete psyche. I know which way my battle is headed: I chose life, but life comes at a price: the price is your entire childhood- your blooming innocence, your bubbling ecstasy, the peace of your heart, the protection of your parents arms, the blissful ignorance of death, the oblivion towards the opposite sex, the careless love of nature, the unhurried pace of purity, the wanting to grow up and be all important and busy, never knowing the cost.

The girl who has been my best friend and confidante for four years- two of it purely through the phone and other electronic media as distance separates us- met up with me recently. I could see it in her eyes; a frozen commitment from two years ago: the commitment to protect me from whatever might hurt me. But I realized how much easier her work is today. I’m not permanently hurt by my past or by that of my soul sister’s, nor am I hurt by any guy I had chosen to cherish and pledged my teenage years to. I am not hurt when someone questions my opinion or overrides my decisions.  I am not hurt that I am no longer allowed to pursue any of the things that kept me linked to that innocence anyway. I am not hurt when people change and drift away from me. I’m not hurt by peer pressure. I’m not hurt when someone ignores me. I am not hurt when someone thinks I am no good. In fact, I am no longer permanently hurt by anything; even the death of those I would give my own life for.

So it was always a trade off. And I traded away my childhood in exchange for more years in which to exist…hoping that someday, some of this will make some sense.

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