Strangely-Sized Lives

Edit: This was written way before the Coronavirus pandemic, so uploading this now feels incredibly uncomfortable and bizarre. But now’s when I’ve had the time to edit and upload so. Just pretend like its early January and we’re all complaining about how the winter isn’t like how it used to be. But no matter how you chose to read this, please stay home.

Okay, I will begin now.

I once asked a teacher of mine why she didn’t like Harry Potter. She taught English and the series made my children develop the habit of reading. 11 year me assumed she would. She replied with “It gives children false hope.”

I thought that was ridiculous. I don’t think any of us really anticipated flying letters in the mail and trail platforms hidden in walls. It was escapism for the average 11 year old, sure, but it was never expectation.

But I do think Harry Potter impacted the way I see things in a very strange way. Harry Potter established my habit of reading, which then snowballed to something much more significant than just a habit.

I was obsessed with reading things. But here’s the thing with reading things: you’ll only read what you think is worth reading. It’s not a very extravagant or disorienting realisation. You’ll only read what you think is worth reading. Seems like something that’s almost a waste of thought.

But then how do you define what’s worth reading? It has to be unique, different, interesting and mesmerising. It has to be extraordinary and intricate.

And therein lies the problem, at least for me. When you’re exposed to so much interesting, unique mesmerising and unique, your life pales in comparison. And I realise that literature isn’t a model for life, but they are some kinds of possibilities?

I don’t expect to be able to teleport using chimneys, but you want the thrill of living in such a world.

Interesting, mesmerising unique and different tell the stories of such people and such lives. There’s a certain, dare I say, fullness or bigness to them that I can’t help but be jealous of.

I wouldn’t really classify my life as drab or dull or uninteresting. To say so would be a gross understatement of the privilege that I was born with. But would I read a book about my life? Would I consider it worth reading? It is mesmerising, unique, different and interesting enough?

Furthermore, my fascination with reading about history and reading about historical figures has made this worse. On some level, there’s an impossibility to narratives about being sent to secret schools, but is there an impossibility to being the wife of a military general?

Josephine Bonaparte, Mary Seacole, Cheng I Sao. So many more cool people. They perhaps all didn’t go down in history like their contemporaries did and neither did they change history like them. Ref – Josephine, wife of fucking Napoleon. But her life story is beguiling. Maybe not that much. But it is. So full of terrible tragedies and grand glories. There’s a bigness to it. A bigness I’ve begun to envy.

But I do see the grievances with using the word “big”. One would connote it with money, fame, glory. I did just refer to a very powerful empress. While I do see the value in money, fame and glory, they’re not what I’m exactly in search of. I want density and intensity to my life. I want the high highs and the low lows.

Very big cringe alert, but I’m sorry. I think this is perhaps why I, despite all my dislike, rewatch the occasional Gossip Girl episode. A very despicable show, but somehow so enjoyable. I think I go back to it because I’m in awe of these very stupid characters and their big, dense and intense lives. There’s so much that happens. I don’t want that life, but I want something from a similar mould. Their lives are much more possible and plausible than being “the chosen one”. Of course, wanting to be from a similar mould contradicts my previous point of not wanting money, fame and glory. But on some very sad level of truth, I do realise that for one to have such a life and to sustain in it, you must be of privilege.

On second thoughts, I’m also wondering whether this is why I like Melodrama so much. It’s full of these very emotional highs and lows. But there again rises the point of money, fame and glory.

What I think I’m trying to say its that I have been charmed by Harry Potter in harbouring false hope. Not hope of learning potions to kill, but that the life I’ll live must be worth reading about. It must be unique, mesmerising, interesting and different enough.

And right now, my theory is that this comes from having strange dense and intense lives.

And I realise how incredibly privilege it sounds. I must sound like a brat in all of this. A fully-fed baby crying out for more. But I’m incredibly grateful for all that I have. I don’t think that I have a bad or boring life. I think it is beautiful. But there’s a sense of normalcy to it, and I don’t think I want to float down life in this river of average, ordinary existence. In terms of unique, different, mesmerising and interesting, I want to be and live more than the bare minimum.

But I often feel like my disposition is what is holding me back. That I’m being given these opportunities, but I’m stopping myself. I’m too afraid, too anxious. I overthink far too much. Always pulling myself back, I’m too scared to push myself.

And here’s where I reach my incomplete conclusion – the true signature of my writing. I mean, this wasn’t a short story anyway. It’s not my biography yet. It’s me deciding what kind of life I want myself to live. And I think, at the back of my head, I know all that I want.

le fin.

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