What can a writer do who dreams about hills, rivers and forests — but who’s stuck in the middle of a shopping mall instead?
Everyone has told her that environment pretty much defines her. You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with — they said.
Yet, she doesn’t want to be defined by the mall. She can survive here, for sure. But in order to thrive, she believes that she has to be somewhere else completely.
Of course, she can close her eyes and imagine the forest instead of the fluorescent lights. She can evoke the sound of birds chirping in her mind and pretend she doesn’t hear the lukewarm pop songs intermingled with ads spit out superfast to save the advertising money. She can pretend that she sits among old wise spiritual men and women, who just happened to look at their phones all at the same time.
The fantasy world is perfectly possible to construct. Even more so because she’s a writer. She knows how to write her own story in a way that sounds convincing even to her.
In other words, she could pretend she’s living the dream in the shopping mall. She’s aware of that.
But she’s also aware that in such a dream reality, nothing would ever surprise her. Everything that happens there would only be another expression of her own beautiful but limited mind. Microwaved stories from the past — even if retold in the most compelling way — couldn’t satisfy her in the long run.
It’s funny how she knows that none of the things that matter to her are in the mall — yet, she so struggles to leave. She knows that the world is so much larger than this space confined by concrete walls and fluorescent lights. That the hills and the forests she dreaming about actually exist somewhere out there.
But the mall is warm and bright, safe and predictable. She knows she’ll have to leave at some point — but she keeps postponing the moment. She wanders around the shops, pretending to herself that there’s something that interests her.
Until she just can’t take it anymore.
It comes to the point when there’s no other possible choice but to go outside. As she breathes in the first sips of fresh air, she can’t believe that she hasn’t done this earlier.
But unlike in fairytales, this breakthrough is not the end. There’s no rule about not going back. The mall is always open, always shiny. And it’s not even evil. There’s nothing wrong about being there.
It’s just that she doesn’t want to be there anymore — but old habits keep drawing her back.
It won’t be until she realizes what serves her at any given moment that she stops blaming herself for wasting time at the mall.
It won’t be until she realizes that she’s always exactly where she needs to be that she stops seeing the forest as good, and the shopping mall as bad.
It won’t be until she makes peace with herself that the walls separating the mall and the forest collapse.
Until then, let her bounce back and forth. She needs to make this trip several times. All I can hope for is that at least she writes a good story about that.