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Aspiration

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I was born with no ambitions. From the very moment I came out my mother’s womb, I felt the inclination to do nothing more than die, so I did. My mother used to tell me how I came slipping out of her without a cry or even a sputter, and how the doctors had to pump my little chest and pour air into my lungs. Even when I was resuscitated, I was a lifeless child. My parents would dangle toys in front of me and make funny faces, but I never smiled. I was the last baby in my day-care to start walking. I didn’t begin to talk until I was four, and even then, I talked very little. My mother and father took me to see doctors who put colorful blocks in front of me and sang me songs, but I only stared at them. For several years, my life was a blur of speech therapy and meetings with child psychiatrists. But finally, my parents gave up, because no one could tell them what was wrong with me.
As a child, I never wanted to play anything or go anywhere. When I began elementary school, I was put in special classes, but even still, I never made any progress. My parents were frustrated with my lack of desire for success. I didn’t want the gold stars or the lollypops that came with good grades. It was easier to do nothing. When I got older, I became aware that other people had dreams and desires, but I didn’t have any of my own. When people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I only shook my head.
My mind did not want me to grow up, but my body did. I became a teenager, and people were no longer sympathetic about my apathy. Teachers told me to grow up, and my mother would only cry. Bullies called me “brain dead” and pastors said my soul was dead. I stopped eating and sleeping because it took too much effort, and I began to waste away. My parents finally sent me to a special home for teens with mental difficulties. But even in that environment, I did not flourish. All the other patients there had some ambition. Even those with less mental capacity than I did yearned to learn what they didn’t know. The ones that were in wheel chairs wanted to walk, and the ones who couldn’t speak tried to desperately, making gasping burbling noises. I had no interest in getting better, though. I would sit in a corner all day, my head in my hands, my eyes closed, thinking about nothing. That was my activity of choice, but when I was forced to do group activities, I could not even find the will power to rebel. After two years, the program decided that I was not benefiting from the program. They put a airplane ticket in my hand, and a suitcase in the other, and sent me home.
As I was waiting in the airport, a homeless man approached me. It was obvious, even to me who had so little experience in the world, that he was homeless. His clothes were fraying and pale, and his face was covered in a grizzled dirty, beard. He bore an enormous pack on his back, like a Santa Claus who had somehow lost his way.
“Please, miss… could I have some money?”
I ignored him. I could not find it in me to make the effort to tell him to go away. I simply shut my eyes, and hummed a low, throbbing note.
But the man was persistent “Please… just a dollar to buy myself a cup of Joe?”
I kept my eyes closed, and hummed.
The man cleared his throat “I know your parents probably told you not to talk to strangers, but I’m sure you can spare a dollar. I won’t spend it on anything but a cup of coffee, I promise you.”
A man sitting next to me finally cleared his throat “Leave this young lady alone.”
The old man tried one more time, “Please, miss. It’s not my fault I’m like this. I have a dream, you know. I’m homeless, and an alcoholic, but I have a dream.”
This finally aroused my limp interest. Before I had left the special home for teens, my psychiatrist John had tried to help me one more time. “You have to want something in life.” He had told me “Don’t you have any dreams?”
I had told him the truth; I didn’t and he had sighed and wished me good luck, as if he knew I probably wouldn’t have any.
I suddenly opened my eyes and leaned forward “What’s your dream?”
It caught the homeless man by surprise, a little. “My dream…well…” his voice wandered away into silence.
“See? You don’t have a dream. Neither do I.” I closed my eyes and went back to humming, vaguely disappointed.
“No.” the old man said “I have a dream. I want to go fishing. That’s what I want to do before I die.”
I opened my eyes “That’s a stupid dream.”
The old man shook his head “No it’s not. It may be to you, but it’s very special to me. I live on the street. I’ll probably never see an old pond again, much less a fresh fish. But the dream is something to keep me going. When life gets bad, and I just want to disappear into nothingness, than I remember this old fishing hole I used to go to when I was a boy. And I think that somehow, sometime I’ll go back there. It keeps me going.”
“I don’t have a dream.” I said.
“That’s too bad” the old man said “Everyone should have something they aspire to.”
I opened my pocket and searched for money, but I realized I didn’t have any.
“I’m sorry.” I told the man “I don’t have any money for you.”
The old man shrugged and walked away, and a lady’s prim voice announced my flight.
As I headed for my gate, I came upon the old man.
“May I have your dream?” I asked “I think I want to go fishing too.”
The old man smiled and nodded, and we parted ways.
When the plane landed, my parents were waiting for me. They looked silent and strained, but suddenly I found I had strength inside of me that I hadn’t had before.
“Mom! Dad! I want to fishing!” It was the first word out of my mouth, and it caught them by surprise.
My parents looked confused, but for the first time in my life, I wasn’t. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.



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PenguinzillaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Mar. 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm
Holy crap, I love this, it is very good, I love how you make her have a very simple yet important dream. I have a friend who's sort of acting like this girl lately, I'm going to share this with him and see what his reaction is. Beautiful. :D
 
IrenieThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Mar. 28, 2013 at 10:40 pm
Wow, thank you. I hope your friend likes it and maybe it helps him or her in some way :)
 
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