Flowers and Dust This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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It is said that if you’re a pessimist at a young age, you know too much. Inversely, if you’re an optimist at an old age, you know too little. For a young person (as many adults like to call teens), I’m rather cynical. After living with a bipolar father and an unforgiving, stoic mother, I had somehow managed to pull myself through. I was an AP honors student with great friends, a loving boyfriend, and a smile that covered everything neatly and expertly. Who would know that this girl with a perfect life had called the police multiple times on her own father?

I find myself wondering why we are here. The cynical satirist that sneers incessantly in the back of my mind tells me that it’s for God’s amusement, and logically, in my despondency, I can’t think of any other reason. In a certain number of years, we’ll all be gone; we’ll be dust floating in space. Great timeless novels, Nobel Peace Prizes, dazzling art pieces – dust.

Still, we work so hard – study away our childhood, work away our prime – all for a life to retire from and for a better life for our children, who in turn will work for their children. It seems like a dreary, endless cycle that may get better or may get worse, depending on the times. So why do we bother? More and more, I find myself enduring life more than living it.

I am with my beautiful boyfriend, Jeffrey, and we’re taking a walk in the gardens of a religious retreat near my house. It’s picturesque; to get to the retreat, you have to walk through the dark loveliness of the woods, hike up the burning steepness of hills, and finally an Eden reveals itself with statues of Mother Mary and quotes from the Bible gracing the pavilions and gazebos. Though I wasn’t raised with religion, I have a great appreciation for the art it yields. It is quiet here, a distinct change from my home.

“Here.” Jeff breaks a flower off a blossoming tree and gently tucks it in my hair. He has a quizzical grin on his face.

“It’s pretty.” I smile.

“Just like you.” He kisses my hand. My eyes soften as I feel his gentle touch, the tenderness of emotion.

Then I’m reminded. I’m reminded why I am here. It takes an extraordinarily resilient and determined person to say, “I’m going to be great in life,” and stick to it. For all humanity to strive for this is a pretty idea but a bit too hopeful for someone with my mind-set. The truth is we live to be happy. If that happiness comes through great accomplishment or recognition, so be it. If that happiness comes through finding love and rapport, so be it. If all you want in the world is inner peace, I say go for it. Find your happiness.

For people like me, the smothering dark is lit every once in a while by small, golden moments. It’s laughter from a joke shared with friends yesterday. It’s the smile on Jeffrey’s face a week ago. It’s the flower, which still hasn’t died, sitting in the vase by my nightstand.

I’ve found the meaning of life.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Liv said...
Mar. 8, 2009 at 9:59 pm
That is so true. Very well written, very insightful. It's a thought I've been trying to put my finger on lately, thank you for putting it into words.
 
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