A quality that everyone needs. Fourteen letters.
Another day goes by and your biggest accomplishment has been filling out someone else’s crossword puzzle. Given them answers you never gave to yourself; fit feelings into boxes into which they’ll never fit, but you like to pretend, don’t you? It’s easier that way, easier to live a life in another’s shadow. And before you can blink away all that you’ve missed, the left cushion of the living room couch becomes your haven. It hugs you like you wanted to be hugged after you finished that crossword puzzle, strangles that desperate urge you have to wander, to roam. But there’s no time for that anymore. Your favourite blue ballpoint pen rests on the same corner of the coffee table; the armchair is taken, the footrest off limits. That’s the way it’s always been – the adventure you wished for is little more than the routine you’ve built for yourself. It’s a box that you’ve forced yourself to fit into. And it’s not even yours.
A pearl all should dive for. Seven letters.
I heard somewhere that the days are long but life is short. I’m not sure you’ve realised that yet. Or maybe you have, but admittance is a bullet you’ve learnt to dodge. It’ll catch up to you one of these hours that stretch before you, those in which all that stands out amongst your otherwise blurred vision are dots that beg to be joined. Black pinpricks that hold your hand, lead you forward, press a palm into your back to keep you upright. They’re hypnotic, aren’t they? Months drift by, unfinished canvases line your garage wall; illegible poems litter your bedroom floor. Once again, New Year’s Eve races by, just another hollow resolution, a life of joining the dots. The aftertaste of regret lingers on your tongue because you and I both know you wish they were yours. The worst broken promises are the ones you shatter for yourself.
Give yourself this. Two words – one and six letters.
There’s no denying that the couch hugs you; but you’re the one who’s tied your arms behind your back. You’ve jailed your mind and chained your heart to another’s, so there might be double the pulse but I see half of the person you desired being. When your mother asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up and you answered with “a teacher”, she thought you were noble. So did you, until that Thursday morning that you were standing in front of an entire classroom of fluttering eyelashes and open mouths and you realised that, amongst all the formulas and theories, the diagrams and equations, you’d forgotten to teach them the most important lesson of all: how to be an individual. How to live in a world that rains rocks, how to walk on two feet, how to survive in a society that strives to stand in the way. And how to do it alone.
So when you buy the newspaper next Sunday, try filling out your own crossword puzzle for a change. Join the dots of your own life. Stand in front of the mirror and meet every blemish, shake hands with every freckle and welcome every inch of skin. Colour by your own numbers before anyone steals the pencil away. Because those kids depend on you to teach them what it means to live. Show them you know how.