by Niegel Fanio Simon
To the Lucky Recipient:
Hello, shalom, aloha.
I am a 23-year old tiny human living in a metropolitan city somewhere in the Pacific. I hope this letter finds you well.
Today we celebrate Easter. (Now, you may not believe in religion – and to be quite honest, sometimes I don’t either – but I believe in the magic of imagination, so bear with me.) In yesterday’s vigil mass, the presiding priest, Father Jett, made parallels between waiting for the Risen Christ, and the quarantine period. He said, by the Easter fire, we must (1) tell stories, and (2) share our dreams.
We tell stories as a mode of grounding. To know ancient stories is to know we are not alone. In fact, he says, we are born never alone: Our mothers are there pushing, and for most of us, a doctor is there pulling. We are born never alone.
Our stories, he says, are sequels of times past. Just as our bodies are products of evolution, our narratives are products of a rich human history which has thrived on this earth longer than any other species. In the end, we are reminded that we are survivors.
And you might think that telling stories and sharing dreams are two sides of the same coin. But while the former requires a certain level of reverence of the past, the latter requires a lot of imagination.
The priest challenged us to imagine the world anew, because certainly, there is no normal to return to after this crisis. While being all too aware of toxic positivity, I want to engage with this thought. For the first time in my life, I feel like it isn’t an exaggeration to say we can finally change the world. What was normal before was clearly defective; one which should not be carried over to the post-crisis world. So then, what should the new normal be?
Which brings me to the point of this letter: I’m not very creative. I have very simple dreams, and to illustrate, I’d like to share one with you.
Once the pandemic has subsided, I would very much like to take a walk under the open skies. Preferably in weather not as humid as this tropical country is known for. A walk where I can feel the gentlest breeze on my skin, and where I can look up to clear skies. Where I don’t have to be afraid of being lost or mugged or catcalled. Where every place I could ever need to be is a walking distance. Where, at the end of the day, I can look up to see the brightest stars.
My hope is that such a dream becomes the new normal.
And yet, I know that such simple dreams require a bunch of factors coming together – better urban planning, a more efficient mass public transport, lower crime rates to name a few. To offer a working solution of course requires a lot of creativity.
Again, I’m not very creative, but I know that there are million of others who are more creative than I am. I personally take so much pleasure hearing about ideas I have never heard of, and dreams bigger than mine.
Too often we dream alone, and perhaps that has been contributory to our many problems. Now that there’s an opportunity to, I would very much like to dream together.
And so, dear reader, what new normal would you like to create together?
With hope,Your Pen Pal
[Homily referenced can be accessed here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AREJIgcuXVs]