By Tanya Tiger
For what seems like an eternity now, I haven’t recognized myself in the mirror.
I see the person called Tanya. I recognize my face from pictures and glimpses caught in reflections but I don’t see me. It’s as if I’m wearing a meat suit. I know I’m inside somewhere but the outside doesn’t match how I perceive myself. Now, some may see this as some kind of mental break. I choose to see it as though I am recognizing my true self, the “me” that exists even without my body.
It’s a strange sensation to feel disconnected from my body.
I feel like I’ve been around for a while, maybe a tour or two through a few lifetimes—an “old soul.” I often wonder if other people feel this way or if I’m different. Sometimes I feel as though I am not of this world; a spy on a mission from some far flung part of the universe. Was I sent here to see what it means to be human? Was I sent to be the eyes of some “God” or otherworldly being? I used think that I knew the answer to questions like these but the older I get, and the more I see, the less I know for sure.
I’m starting to think that we’re all “spies” but most of us just haven’t figured it out yet. We’re like actors in a play—pieces on a game board—one giant experiment being conducted on the subjects of existence and interconnectedness.
I used to think that I knew what it meant to be human. You’re born, you get an education, you learn about life, you get married (or not), have kids (or not), work in a career that you love, go to bed and wake up in your nice house on your nice street and wave to your nice neighbors as you leave for work the next morning, and do this over and over again until you die. That was the picture I painted for myself in my youth. I figured if you followed that plan you’d be a happy and fulfilled human being. I find it almost laughable and more than a little naïve now.
I have seen far too much real life to think this way any longer. I took all the right steps, followed all the right directions and achieved nearly all of the goals that I had been taught were markers of success for us humans. And yet, I am more confused now than I have ever been about what life is really all about.
What I have begun to understand though is this:
To be human is to hurt and to smile, to make love and war, to bring joy and sorrow, to rise above challenges and crumble in fear. To be human is to create life and to take it, to bring ideas to life and watch others fade away, to make music and drown despair.
To be human is to feel everything and nothing.
To be on fire with passion and chilled to the bone in deep depression. To be human is to accept and to challenge, to fight and to f*ck, to hold close and to push away.
To be human is to have your voice heard and to be silent. To be human is to be so real that you have to pretend to be something you’re not or risk falling into madness.
I know this now.
I know that there are people out there in such pain and such despair that they can see no way out other than to end their own lives and maybe take others with them. There are people that have no roofs over their heads, no food on their tables, and only rags to keep them warm.
There are people who rape and murder, steal and kidnap, hold hostage and terrify. There are madmen and women who know nothing of love only hate and pain. There are the darkest of nights and evil and rage. There are screams and bombs and fires and floods.
There is death. There is so, so, so much death.
And then…there is love. There are mothers and fathers cradling newborns, caressing and whispering their dreams into their tiny ears. There are lovers smiling and holding hands with visions of a beautiful future together. There are dreams so big they cannot be contained and they explode in a rainbow of colors across the world.
There is laughter and light, flowers and blue skies. There are dances and first kisses, soft raindrops on tender skin, and sunlight sparkling through the trees. There is passion and drive to build a better future for everyone.
There is hope and faith, and people who still believe that we can remember who we really are and come back together, in unity, again. There is you and there is me and there is love (that one bears repeating). There is Love.
I believe in the reflection I cannot see.
Editor: Dana Gornall