We all are adventurers of life, each with our own quests to fulfill, our own dragons to slay, our own princesses (in case of heroes) and treasures (for heroines; hey, blame the video game creators for this stereotype!) And so we go from stage to stage, fighting enemies and evading dangers, avoiding temptations and gaining abilities, understanding more and more about this crazy world we live in.
Only to find out we’ve been chasing after the wrong princess (or prince). Or we’ve been exploring in the wrong world.
But it’s not game over. Yet.
Like most old-school video games, we were propelled into this world without an instruction guide. Sure, some had the privilege of having parental tutorials. Some even got a bonus of being able to enjoy education. But in general, we learn about the rules from trial and error. “No!” says the father, when you tried to touch the burning stove. “No!” cried the mother, when you tried to touch a cockroach. “No!” screamed your sister, when you dipped your finger on poop, and tried to lick it. And that’s just childhood.
As we grow, we’ve moved from learning through our mistakes into learning through other’s mistakes— though curiosity, stubbornness and other adolescent hormonal rebelliousness often gets the better of us. “Don’t smoke!” and we’re torn between joining our friends who seem to enjoy it, and seeing older people who suffer because of it. “Don’t fall in love too soon!” and we’re aching between seeing good friends go through teenage pregnancy, early parenthood or a plain series of heartbreaks, against that strong, near-irresistible urge to find out what if that person is actually our one true destined love that’s meant to be our forever-after-everest. We grew up with countless don’ts in our teenage years: some justified, some peculiar, and some plain inexplicable.
Then comes adulthood. We think we already knew everything we needed to know: about life, about love, about taxes and politics, about what’s beautiful and right and what really matters. Then, we don’t. “No!” says the father, when you tried to touch the burning stove— and still we take stupid risks which we know will only hurt us sooner or later. “No!” cried the mother, when you tried to touch a cockroach— and yet we still are drawn to the wrong things, the bad things. “No!” screamed your sister, when you dipped your finger on poop, and tried to lick it — and still, we still live stubbornly, trying and regretting and still pushing on. This is adulthood. Welcome to Wanderland.
The positive thing about Wanderland is that you are free to decide for yourself. You can do what you want. Go where you want. Be what you want. It’s your life— feel free to wander as much as you can. That’s a good thing, right? Until you realize that you can’t just wander for the rest of your life. Until you realize you can’t seem to find a place to stay, or belong. Until you realize that you are forced to keep on wandering, without knowing where to go— or sometimes, knowing where to go, but not finding the directions. You hear a voice shout, “Turn left here!” Another hollers, “It’s too dark; wait until morning!” Someone whispers, “Just follow the stars!” Someone insists, “Just run straight— you’re bound to reach somewhere sooner or later!” And a few would tell you, “Stay with us, follow us— it’s better to be lost together than alone.”
Why do we even wander?
Some may blame it on a lack of personal goals. Some, to a misunderstood purpose in life. Others may pin it on misguided priorities and values. The rest— well, the rest don’t know what else to do.
Why do we even wander?
Almost everyone seem to live as if they’re going to live forever; few live too worried about possibly dying each day. But whether one wanders with life or death in mind, we all have that subconscious longing for something beyond this world and life. Why else have we created fantasies in written literature, art, films, and video games? Why else did we enjoy playing in our fantasy worlds as a child? Why else are we continuously looking for something better, something grander, something beyond our imagination?
If you, like me, get tired of pointlessly chasing after a princess who gets transferred from one castle to another for several world stages, only to get kidnapped all over again— just stop. You’re not meant to wander; we are created for something wonderful.
The real life begins outside Wanderland. And it starts when we’ve learned to take a step of faith instead of letting fate dictate our steps.