Shatter the Glass

By Marisa Orton, 19, who is a medical student at the University of Nice. She lives in Nice, France. Please read her article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

What’s that barrier, you ask ever so timidly, between our white picket fence and the phantasmagorical illusions you fathom late at night? After all, there must be a reason to explain why you’re always shadowed by a fear of falling. By those darkened, frigid hands grappling to keep you right where you are. It is but a matter of time before you begin to feel a feather-soft tickle in your throat – that perilous lullaby playing over and over again like a broken record, until you become, in turn, the one it breaks – murmuring to you that something is missing.

As Plato said, ‘every heart sings a song, incomplete.’

Many, many years and a myriad of stories down the line, Bashō told us, ‘the journey itself is my home.’

Then, a whisper away from today, Warsan Shire, a modern-day Kenyan poet, in her brillant poem Home, stated, ‘you have to understand, that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land.’

What we all work out sooner or later is that we’re searching for three things: the final notes to Plato’s song, the type of place Bashō would estime worthy of being a home and most importantly, the quintessentially dangerous waters of which Shire speaks.

Some cultures abide by the laws and precious connotations of an omniscient power, separating themselves from said divinity by an abstract hierarchy. While an individual may be everything a person could wish to be, they will never be more than what they are: a person. They will find themselves forever inept of crossing that invisible line which divides one perfect entity from absolutely everything else. What I love about dualism is the very image of a battle – or should I said dual? – taking place every second of every day. Atoms, swords, pinces of electricity, spices, mythical beasts…They all hurl themselves at one another incessantly, but in vain, desperately trying to break that glass wall keeping them locked out of what can only be imagined to be a utopia.

As mere Shakespearean players, we may never be divine, but on our own little scale, we’re fighting a more concrete dual: that which separates existing from living. Staying from traveling.

Indeed, each time we take a breath, we have a choice to make: quietly letting our every step become one more letter in a behemothic novel nobody is ever going to wish to read, or throwing the whole thing into the fireplace and feather-quilting or scrappy-penciling our own words.

Shire suggests that disregarding our instincts to stay put can often be the safest option when our home is metaphorically set ablaze, but over time, I have realized that everything goes up in flames sooner or later. We’re living on an egg timer. The longer you wait to pack a battered bag and walk away, the more likely you are to be collateral damage. It is not because you never leave a place that it becomes untouchable.

So take my hand and we’ll dive into the waves. All you have to do is go as far as you can, as wondrously as you can, for as long as you can.

Part of me knows these mouthfuls of sea salt are the most tangible entities I’ll ever find in this life. I love swirling through them, watching them sparkle a thousand different colors. Diving deep into the depths, handing over the reins of my existence to this allegro tide, kicking my way through the setting sun and into the night.

I see you smiling, and I give a laugh. Spinning around and around in the water, I watch the bubbles pop from my mouth and giggle their merry way back up to the tide.

Perhaps it takes a looming menace for one to put their child in a boat, but I believe the best thing you can do for any child is exactly that. By saving them from a lifetime on land, you take a hammer to that glass wall and penetrate the only form of dualism out of which we humans can emerge victorious.

In fact, I would even go so audaciously far as to say the fact that, ‘no one puts their children in a boat,’ unless they essentially don’t feel they have a preferable solution is heart-breaking. Setting sail should not be a last resort; it should be the most incredible and breathtaking way of showing your children how wonderful the world around them can be. Amongst the flood of negative information we receive daily about the industrialisation of our planet, the horrors committed by people possessed by insanity and the disgusting decisions made by those we are meant to trust, it is crucial to remember there is more to life than all of that.

Being far too involved in how empty a glass may seem is as much a form of obliviousness as knowing nothing at all. Undeniably, it takes true ignorance to never explore.

If I had to say for what I am most grateful to my mother, it is that she has never once ceased to encourage me to travel and to take on new experiences; whatever happens, she has a quirky way of turning it into an adventure. Honestly, if it weren’t for her showing me such a plethora of stunning places, I would never have felt the urge to take up writing in the hope of capturing it all in a range of literary snapshots. Now, travel writing is my greatest passion and the seas my one true home.

Overall, the notion of safety is but a mound of letters with which to play. Build a tower, have them topple onto one another like dominos, toss them far out into a soda-blue lake just to see those magical water-circles give way. Whatever you do with it, safety remains a game; it will never be something upon which we can depend. There is no telling which corner of the planet is less likely to eat us up alive than another. In my opinion, all we can do is make the most out of as many corners as possible until we’re enamored enough with the very eyes of one very special place to fall begging on our knees for it to swallow us forever.

So, to answer your question, that barrier is a shield you should let down. It’s time to stop hiding behind lies.

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