I’ve been having a lot of trouble writing lately.
It isn’t writer’s block. It’s something more sinister, more oppressive, more suffocating. It’s a loss of myself in a world of corporate greed and social expectations and a system that tells me who to be and how to think and what to buy. It’s a fading away of everything I believe in against a backdrop of the cynicism and resignation that inevitably haunts adulthood. Growing up. That coming of age that is supposed to be the culmination of all the years we spent in our youth looking for ways to make ourselves whole, only to find that none of it took.
I’m tired. I spend all day pushing buttons I am told to push, saying things that I am told to say, subsisting because I am told that it’s the best one can expect from life. I come home at night spent and drained and another day older.
I am too tired to write. And even if I could, what would I say? Where would it come from? There is nothing left, because life is as cold and empty and worthless as I am.
And, what if it isn’t good enough?
And, what if it is?
And, look at me. Poor, miserable me, bent in two under this burden of needing to write even though I’m too frightened to do it. Of feeling that I could do something great, if only I had the courage to speak up. But I don’t. And so I push buttons and I recite scripts of inanity and I subsist. Wasted.
But this week, something happened. Somewhere far away, someone rigged an election. In a place I will never see, people took to the streets. People rioted. People gave their lives. All for their right to be heard.
People died for their right to speak up.
And here I sit in my safe, warm little bubble, feeling sorry for myself. Huddled under some asinine and illogical fear, held captive by the idiotic worry that I might not be good enough, that I might not inspire, that I might not rise to the heights of literary immortality even as people all over the world spill blood for a chance at the pen that I hold motionless in my hand. I watch my television, mesmerized, as people I will never meet in a place that I will never go, people who will never experience the comfort or the education or the security or the freedom that I have, proudly display a bravery that I will never achieve. And I am so, so ashamed.
It’s been five years almost to the day since the first time I set foot in Tian’anmen Square. I remember standing in awe, barely able to breathe, knowing that I was in a place where people had given their lives for something bigger than themselves. For freedom. Something so basic, so fundamental, and yet so easily denied. I remember thinking, in my youthful naivete, that I would never take my own for granted. And yet here I am, in the greatest of ironies, denying myself the freedom so many people are fighting for. Simply because I am afraid.
This cannot continue.
In Tehran, in Beijing, in the countless other places where people have sacrificed everything simply to be heard, to be granted the chance to stand up in a sea of the apathetic walking dead and claim the right to live by virtue of their own voices, the courage of those who have chosen to stand up for their right to speak makes it impossible for me to waste my own.
I will stand up for my friends who are denied the right to love, simply because they are different. I will speak out for those who don’t have enough to eat, a bed to sleep in, clothes to wear. Proper healthcare. An education. I will bare my soul until there is nothing left of it, until it bleeds out as though I myself were among those who sacrificed everything for the right to stand up and be heard.
I’ll be melodramatic and passionate and angry and alive if I damn well want to. Fuck the system. Screw pushing the buttons and reciting the words and going through the motions. I will write, and I will breathe, and I will cherish my freedom with every word and every breath.
I will not be afraid. I will not be wasted.
Silence is no longer an option.