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Ten years ago was when it started. I applied for the job. ‘Don’t be like me, Richard’ Mom would say, ‘I know this isn’t what you want. You want work that’s more fantastic. Don’t you want to see the world?’

That’s easy for her to say. She worked as a cleaning lady for 46 years. ‘What has she done? Nothing, absolutely nothing, and she turned out all right’ I would think. I was a cautious person. At the time, it seemed like the best option for me was to find a steady job that pays enough and a single-story suburb house that was comfortable enough. The method here was to pick the life with the least chance. I would be able to just go on with life, no uncertainties.

Ten years passed and things worked out as planned, for the most part. I have had a steady job and a comfortable single-story suburb house. I’ve had my every-day routine. At six A.M. every morning the alarm cuts through my dreamless sleep. I have the average morning wash until 6:50 A.M. Every day, I dress and glance into the mirror, just because it’s routine. It’s natural to briefly look at oneself before venturing out into the world. To the average eye, the mirror would reflect a man somewhere in his forties who is around six feet tall, who weighs around 160 pounds, who has brown, wavy hair, brown eyes, and tan skin. However if one would peer closer, observe and study, such as a portrait artist might do, they would find more. They may perceive a somewhat lifeless man, who is living without chance or opportunity, just routine, someone who is more of a robot, and is lacking human soul or spirit. Anyway, the day was completed as anyone, portrait artist or not, might expect: subway, the job from 9 to 5, subway, dinner, sleep. There was no more and no less.

The first couple years of this life didn’t disturb me in the slightest. Everything worked and I had no worries. I quickly became accustomed to the job. My work basically stayed the same. The job’s procedure never changed, only the information. Other people would have become bored and would have done something different in their life, whether it is travel or taking up a hobby or joining a club. My fear of change was pulling me back from life. I felt myself graduating into a state where there is not much thought or feeling, and room for certain human qualities was gradually diminishing. I think that there must have been some living part of me left. It must have been waiting for these past ten years, ready to burst and let me free.

The night of May 5, 2010 felt odd to me. I was confused, because it was the first time in a long time that I felt odd, or for that matter, confused! The weather had been cold for several months, but tonight I could feel sweat trickling down my forehead. I tried to shake out the odd… emotion? I lay down in bed and threw the blankets because I was overcome with heat and anger at this feeling. It felt like something was ready to burst inside of me. I writhed in bed and somehow crossed into an intense sleep. I remember hearing my mom throughout the night and seeing her cleaning. I can see her expression clearly now. It was filled with regret and it looked like it was pleading with me. I heard her voice separately, without seeing her lips move. ‘Don’t be like me, Richard. I know this isn’t what you want. You want work that’s more fantastic. Don’t you want to see the world?’ The last question kept echoing in my mind until it got quieter and higher, until it was a series of chirp-like sounds.

My eyes opened and I gasped for a breath of air. For once, the bird’s chirps woke me up instead of my alarm clock and for once, the chirps sounded nicer than the ringing of my alarm clock. I needed more of the birds’ songs, of nature’s early morning call. My routine was gone from me at that moment, forgotten. I ran out of the house, not bothering to change out of pajamas, looking up for the birds and their song. I sprinted to the park a couple of blocks away, in front of cars and pedestrians. They must have honked and yelled, but my ears were fixed on chirps and what’s more, the rustling of leaves. I reached the park, and something else hit me: the smell. The smell of flowers and trees and dirt and possibly every other smell accessible to humans in that park. My senses started blooming and my emotions skyrocketed. I heard, smelled, saw everything and I ran my hands through leaves and tasted the fresh air. My emotions were everything in a split second: anger, sadness, happiness, joy, fear, etc. I thought about the opportunities in my life. I could write, travel, join clubs or organizations, help people in need, or even visit my family. All of this went on until, for a split moment where there was no way of calculating time, everything stopped. My senses, my emotions, my opportunities, they all stopped. Then, everything thing leveled out.
I could see my life ahead of me and it was new and exciting. It was my awakening.





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