August 13th, 2010. My alarm clock wails, ripping me from my dreams without mercy - but I do not resist. The time is 11:48 pm, not my normal wake up call, but perfectly fitting for this abnormal night. Praying that the alarm did not wake my parents, I slip out of bed and into my bath robe, listening for his footsteps across the hall. 11:49 pm. The silhouette of his messy hair fills the doorway as I touch my finger to my lips, holding back the excitement of our midnight excursion. Slipping like fugitives from the strong grips of imprisonment, we start down the stairs. Each creaking step is a shout in the dead of night, quickening my heartbeat; first fluttering, then thumping, now pounding. My hands are clenched, damp with liquid nerves, as I look to my brother for confirmation. He nods, and so, I continue down into the dark unknown.
We tiptoe outside, crossing the border from safety and comfort into mystery and vastness. The heavy air sticks to our skin and the dew grabs hold of our ankles as we make our way through the freshly cut grass. Whispering even though we're far from the ears of our parents, I say the only words of the night, “Here they come.”
And then they came. Sparks of light dart across the sky, coming and going all in the same instant; shooting stars. They are ephemeral in the night, but in my mind forever imprinted. My brother and I are the only two souls to witness this silent spectacle, gazing up at something so much bigger than ourselves. We know the quiet stillness of the stars has no concern for us, but still we cast our wishes. We are a single stroke of paint in this universal masterpiece, but in that moment, we are infinite.
To this day I have never revealed what I wished for all those years ago. Of course, everyone knows a wish loses any chance of coming true the second it is released into the tainted air we breath. But I have come to realize that I don’t want this wish to come true. As my big brown eyes witnessed one of the few things that are truly magical in this world, I wished that I would always be as happy as I was right in that moment. With my brother next to me on a warm August night, the light of the stars glassy in our tired eyes, I thought things could never get better.
But I now know that I will not settle for the known feelings of comfort and love. I will not settle for the revival of feelings, as great as they were, that have come and gone. I crave new achievements and celebrations and moments of overwhelming happiness where warmth surges like blood through my body. I want to taste the thin air at the top of Mount Everest and be humbled by my smallness in this great world. I want to be engulfed by the culture and traditions of a far away land, where I am viewed as a simple soul and not a prisoner of the stereotypes that constrict me. I want to sit with the president of the United States as he asks me about my great new discovery and bring a sea of knowledge to those who thirst for it. Nothing can confine me to the realms of “reality.” Like the stars embedded in the night, and the countless constellations they disguise, I am limitless. I am ready to be submerged in this great world and all it has to offer, letting my aspiration for growth and change carry me past the boundaries as if they never existed. Now and then, I look to the future and imagine the number of differences I could make, challenges I could overcome, and victories I could achieve. And I always find myself thinking, “The limit does not exist.”