He spoke to her once more. “Sophia, tell me your heart’s desire.”

In the silence of that room, Sophia’s words came softly but clearly. “I don’t… want … to … die.”

The colonel slowly shut his eyes, savoring her words, and a smile formed on his lips. He opened his eyes and looked across at Laslo. “How interesting, Laslo, that Sophia should define living as not dying. You see, once reduced to this imperfect state, the desire to live is nothing more than a fear of dying.”

He bent over Sophia once more. His voice suddenly stern, he passed judgement on her. “You are no longer perfect, Sophia.”

Then shaking his head gently, his voice filled with regret, he said to her, “I am afraid I cannot let you live.”

– (Eating Fire and Drinking Water, Arlene J. Chai)

Am I a perfect person, then, Colonel Santiago Aure, for not being afraid to die? Or have I just fallen that far into myself? Tell me, Colonel, if the fearlessness I possess makes me a better person than them, if it is the evidence of an enlightened mind, if it is the proof of acceptance of truth everyone else denies; tell me I am different instead of traumatized.


Constant assertion of individuality sometimes leaves no room for the assertion of belonging needed in unity. In a world where to stand out, to be different, and to rebel is encouraged, it is laughable to think that to blend in and to be a part of society should be as well. When, in fact, the latter is more important. When, in fact, we often forget the world does and will not revolve around us, but it will certainly work with us.

I’m not saying that we should be uniform in all aspects, or that we should abandon all progress of our own self-discovery. It is more on that we should impress on minds that being a part of society isn’t necessarily a bad thing; that it is possible to be yourself without holding humankind in low regard when you yourself are part of it and consistently contributing either to its progress or deprecation; that you are no longer twelve and your special snowflake phase is no longer forgivable, only annoying, unhelpful and impractical. When you finally tire yourself out in complaints, all that is left, and all you have achieved, is a dry mouth and a boosted ego.