Where the sidewalk ends…
…where the journey begins
I’d like to think that I’m an optimist with everything that’s been going on in the world, and I’d like to think that despite the many hurdles 2020 has thrown at us, we will make it through stronger in the end.
But the reality is, no matter how much perseverance one throws at a generally terrible year, perseverance alone cannot suffice. As cliché as it may sound, it’s ultimately about the people who have journeyed with us along the way, and I am indescribably thankful for them, you included, of course.
I’d like to mention that this will be the last iteration of Wenbo’s Walks for this year, and it’s definitely not concluding in the manner I expected this column to when I first started composing these in February.
You see, I was anticipating a jolly end-of-year celebratory walk, perhaps getting to venture further down Mass. Ave. toward downtown or Park Street, rather than, you know, getting stuck in Virginia for half a year and then ending back up in Boston. Clearly, that did not happen, and with the sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases as of late, that is even less likely now.
Although the column will not leave the year with a bang of a walk, I nonetheless had a blast.
I thought that this column was going to be purely train-of-thought, that the thoughts racing through my head would be so diverse and interesting that upon viewing different sights I would have such magnificent revelations that I would be able to fill up articles upon articles of content.
I mean, if you were thinking I was going to negate that last statement based on the serious tone of the previous paragraphs… I’m not. I have filled up articles upon articles with content. One thing my column does well, or poorly, depending how you view it, is its sharp tonal shifts.
But you ask, squinting with disbelief, “Have your revelations actually been that magnificent, though?” To that, I return the squint and mutter achingly beneath my breath, “Um. Heck yes.” “Overconfident?” “Um. Heck yes.” “Being sarcastic?” “Um. Heck yes.”
In the spirit of my column though, I figured that I should at least take some sort of a walk for this end-of-year column. This column started the year with a hike down Mass. Ave. to witness the glory of an egg. And hence, I must seal the loop.
A cracked egg seeps from its shell, delightfully cheap from Target. I stand there wistfully as it sizzles away…
on the pavement on a sunny day. Okay. Maybe the cracked egg wasn’t exactly sizzling, since this is Boston, rather just… kinda pouring out over the street. That’s fine. Whatever.
The point is, this egg came in a dozen, 12 beautiful eggs tucked safely within the confines of a carton. Sounds so good so far, right? Wrong. I was deceived, fooled into thinking that the beautiful dozen I had chosen was perfect.
As a matter of fact, the carton of eggs was not flawless. Gasp. About 11 of them were fine, perfectly ovoidal as they should be. However, there was one: one single egg that, to my horror upon turning it upside down, had a crack in it.
And this wasn’t some surface-level scratch, nor was it a line mistaken for a crack. No, no, no. This was on the level of Humpty Dumpty cracked. I suddenly found myself on the sidewalk with this egg. I don’t know why I was there, but I was.
I dropped it. Intentionally? Unintentionally? I do not know.
Upon leaving Mr. Dumpty behind and continuing on my walk to who-knows-where, however, I have an epiphany. A great and terrible feeling scathes and seethes within my chest. I want to regurgitate the past nine minutes of my life as though that would somehow reverse time, physically undo what I just committed.
I feel awful. I gave up on that egg so easily, simply because it did not conform to my expectations of what an egg should be. I gave up on it because it was “imperfect,” only because I could not comprehend its beauty.
I bought the egg, after all. I bought it and took care of it as I carried the carton home from Target. The egg was mine. The egg was imperfect simply because I deemed it to be, because society created a concept of what a perfect egg should be.
But what about food safety? Fair point indeed. Such eggs are not to be consumed, regardless of how they’re cooked. But I could’ve used this egg for something else, if only I had given it more care, more thought, more consideration! I could have used its shell at the very least to nourish a bed of chrysanthemums, carrots, or chives.
But I didn’t. I just gave up on it. I tug anxiously at my hair as my feet switch onto autopilot. I find myself across the street by some miracle. At this point, I’m just avoiding people as they pass but otherwise completely out of it.
“It’s just an egg, for chrissake. Get a hold of yourself!” you cry.
Sure, that makes sense in practice. A breeze blows past my face as a storefront flag flaps wildly in it. Am I crying? I can’t tell; my face is numbed in frost. I sense my arrival outside Target again, but this time, instead of going inside, I turn around to go home.
The problem is, as much as I try to dissociate myself from this egg, as much as I try to forget, I can’t help but feel like a cracked egg sometimes. I will never be the perfect child my parents hoped that I would become, that my aunts and uncles and grandparents wanted me to be. I had passed the point of no return the instant I was born. I had failed before I tried.
And believe me, I’ve tried. I really have. But no matter what I did, I always knew deep down but refused to admit even to myself that it would never be enough to please everyone.
Be tougher! Get yourself some thicker skin!
Others’ hopes projected forth and seeped into my head. As their hopes entered my mind, my own were forced out through my eyes. I felt miserable. And by the time one May many years ago came, I was certain that acceptance was not an option but to myself. I felt given up on, like an egg cracked upon the road.
So I gave myself a second chance, an opportunity to reflect and search for what I was truly passionate about. I sat myself down and gave myself a pep talk. I gave myself an opportunity to accept myself. From that point on, I would set my sights upon the goals that I had, what I wanted in life and what would make me happy.
Of course, I am still a ways from my dreams. Of course, not every step along the way has exactly been sunshine and rainbows. And, of course, I still carry a bit of my parents and other relatives within me, but only to the extent that their expectations will make me into what I believe to be the best version of myself that I can be.
I banished the thoughts that had consumed me from within for over a decade. The truth is, it was a lot easier said than done, but the other side is a whole lot brighter. The truth is, I only learned how beautiful it is to love other people and the world when I wasn’t so caught up in despising myself.
I’m still not completely in the clear yet, but I am almost there, all thanks to those I’ve opened up to and those who continue to support me. I love you.
I turn the corner back to my street, where the egg remains lay still. A couple of birds were huddled around it now, feeding upon the yolk as a pile of shell fragments rested in the grass nearby. Huh. The birds must’ve moved them… or something.
Looks like nature gave the egg a second chance after all.
And today, a month later, I must tell you that as I walk past the former spot of the fragmented egg shells, a clover and dandelion now call that spot home. Passerbys may overlook them, but to me, they are the most beautiful things to ever sprout. I hope they live long and fruitfully, and I hope the egg inside them helps them discover their purpose in life.
With that, I shall conclude Wenbo’s Walks for the remainder of 2020. Have a happy holiday season, and I hope that you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy over New Year’s Day. I will see you again in 2021. What shall the item of my infatuation be next year? Tune in to find out!