Sorry for my indecisiveness- this is another personal response to Joy Kogawa’s poem “Where There is A Wall,” but it is not a short story; rather, it is a personal response to an adversity that I had faced and what I learned from it. I simply could not decide what to post and I usually never post something like this so please bear with me.
Quick Intro: Within Joy Kogawa’s poem “Where There is A Wall,” she outlines differing methods on how one can respond to adversity represented through “helicopters, rockets, bombs” or “wailing prayers to utter.” Within her poem, Joy basically gave the readers an insight towards overcoming adversity in differing ways through situating the poem into a warlike and calmer atmosphere. However, the adversity was not explicitly stated but rather was to simply to overcome the “wall.” Specificity is suggested through the usage of materialistic objects such as a “ladder” or a “gate” that can be used to physically overcoming the “wall” which forces the readers to adapt to the notion of possibility rather than the impossibility associated with conquering adversity. Therefore, within the beginning of my response I wanted to generalize my adversity into a universal concept of wanting to resist change, from there I was able to bring in the car accident which forcibly provoked me to change (which was my adversity). Notably, I also had different responses to this adversity I faced, I was essentially distant from in the sense I was recalling what had occurred and the only way to cope with the circumstance was to pretend that I was fine. However, I later realized that when one overcomes an adversity they can use it to better themselves by helping others, which is how change (what I resisted) inevitably allowed me to grow and be more empathetic.
It’s funny how I resist change, when it’s natural, for I am simply afraid of losing what offered me security within the past. And sometimes, this past we desperately want to maintain a part of is no longer enough; we continually need the opportunity to grow into more of who we are, and the past is confining to this natural occurrence. Therefore, time is such an excellent concept for it helps the progression of our nature; there is naturalness. Naturalness is normalness, and therefore, it is my security. It relates, and once again I find a comfort. Momentary blinded, yet my sight can still see enough to identify what I thought I had lost. I am perfectly fine.
Yet when I was in a car accident I was not. Not at all. But I needed to feel like it. So I did. It’s funny, because when this desperate survival instinct in you knows death is awaiting you it cannot lie to you; maybe it is something magical; something we were not meant to describe. And even if you think you can, don’t ever bother to explain it to me. Sometimes what you have felt is too different and does not need to be rationalized at all.
But in that moment, I knew I was going to crash before we did. And there is a gap in my memory or a white space. I cannot remember the actual impact of the crash or recall it. It is as if I physically experienced a lapse in time or forgot a part of time, but remember what occurred before and after. I don’t suppress this memory in the depths of my mind, so I am not purposefully or subconsciously trying to forget; I just physically and mentally cannot remember.
But I remember how my face felt numb. How I couldn’t see the world clearly anymore. How my lungs couldn’t get access to any air. How I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough.
I was quite literally situated within the slow pacing of time. I inhaled but couldn’t exhale. I was frozen and terrified. I needed to breathe. Needed to. I had the intention that I was going to breathe because the alternative at that moment was something that I could never accept. I breathed. My lungs exhaled the desperate air that had cruelly left them. But I was alive; even though my face was bloody, but I didn’t know that yet. I got out the smoking car; unlocked the door; I needed to acquire safety. I needed to feel the cool grass underneath my legs and the backs of my thighs. And as I let my self gently fall, I did.
There were so many people around me. No one was disgusted or scared at my face, as I imagine I would have been. But they were too kind. And I felt their empathy; it was the first time I was its recipient and they made feel secure. They offered me a warm blanket of their reassurance and I desperately snatched it and placed it around myself. I was content as I could have been.
But I couldn’t help but ask, if my face was fine. My fingers had the sense of touch but could not feel anything on my face. It was as if it was not there; as if my hand was simply passing through air; where my face should have been was nothing. But there was a greater problem, I couldn’t see. My vision was blurry. Why was it blurry? I needed to see. Within my sight was where I quite literally sought life’s pleasures.
And when the firefighter came to ask me what hurt. All I did was raise my hand and extend my thumb. He didn’t smile but I did internally, because I still couldn’t feel my face. Nothing hurt at all. But my thumb did. Maybe he worried too much and I needed to see a smile.
But I didn’t get one that day.
So I questioned the man who was seated beside me in another vehicle. An important vehicle that was allowed to hurry through the streets. Because cars moved for it, and ensured its safety. And I got excited at the curiosity that others momentarily experienced when they saw an ambulance. They experienced a need to know what had occurred but couldn’t. Because I was safe from their searching eyes, and only a few knew my secret.
I pressed on, and asked him why I couldn’t see. I couldn’t even see his face. He asked me confused what I was talking about; how, I was seeing right now. That’s right. He was right. I could. I could see. But it wasn’t clear. It wasn’t clear. But he was reassuring me. So I stayed silent and let him hope that I was consoled. When I wasn’t. At all. I needed my mom. But she wasn’t here yet. She hadn’t heard about this yet. So that’s okay, I’ll have to wait for her. I was fine. And he was right; I could not accept the possibility of not seeing so I had to see. I had to. And I did.
But I have more optometrist check-ups then normal. They’re more thorough. More advanced. And there’s an unnaturalness within that. Because one day they might find something wrong with my eyes, and I can’t accept that. So maybe I don’t go as often as I should. Because I am so deathly afraid. But it is fine. Because I am fine.
But when they placed me on the gurney with real warm blankets I felt special for a moment and sated. But then I was brought into a room I didn’t like. A room filled with around fifteen police officers. And they were all staring at me. It was not fair. I was not prepared. And now they could see me before I could see myself.
But my ignorant self did not know that I wouldn’t be able see my reflection in over a month. Because that blood over my face would soon dry into scabs that could cause scars. And that was a reality my mom knew I couldn’t handle. So our house was mirror free; all mirrors were covered. And I appreciated that, and thankfully the scabs never turned into one scar. My skin remained its unified coloured self. And I was thankful. Am so thankful.
But those officers that had no right to stare, but couldn’t help but glance at my face and then quickly look away unashamedly: I hated them. Because they were judging me and my weakness. Because I couldn’t yet stand on my two feet, and I still did not know what my face looked like. Afterwards, they placed an unnecessary neck brace around me, but then soon took it off. But I felt scared for those people who had to put on a neck brace. I felt sorry. Maybe as sorry as those officers felt for me. But I still didn’t appreciate it.
And maybe when I only got three phone calls from my friends I wasn’t exactly mad. Because I had my beautiful family. And they never looked at my scabbed and bruised face and treated me as inferior. They were the get well basket I did not need to receive. And I loved that. I appreciated that. Because some people have not a single soul to seek comfort within. The doctor has to ask these people whom they should call. And some say no one, because there is nobody to care for them; to let them know they are not alone. And I want to let them know, I’ll be there. Always. But I haven’t met enough people yet. And I do not know the effect I have.
I hope when you are broken you reach for me. And I’ll help fix you. Because I want to. And in this moment when you are so selfless and think you need no one, I will be there. To tell you that you are not fine. Not fine at all. And how I get that. So don’t pretend because you aren’t alone anymore. I will help you. Because people have to feel weak in order to prove to themselves that they are stronger. So much stronger. So I wont let you fall; I will help you stand, and when you stand on your own two feet, I’ll let you rise, and smile from afar. Because you have arrived to your shining essence that I was only meant to watch you return to. See, I understand that. Maybe others don’t. But who cares about any of them? You will be fine, but it is okay to not be fine for a moment. And in that moment, in which your smile feels broken, that’s all you need.
That is all you need.