anything but that

What will make you happy? they asked him.

Images filled his mind, thoughts of adventure, of secret hideouts, of writing his dreams on a paper airplane and watching them fly. Because that’s almost the same as flying myself, he said.

They told him that was wrong. What do you want? they asked.

He wanted to play. He wanted to always be able to see the stars. He wanted to make daisy chains and leave them on people’s doorsteps.

No, they told him, that won’t get you anywhere. You want success. You want acceptance. You want money.

And he believed them.

So he grew, and he worked. He always worked. He forgot what the stars even looked like, and he forgot how to make daisy chains, and he never ever played. But he had what he wanted, what everyone had always told him he needed.

One evening he left the office late. Pausing on his way to the car, he glanced up at the smog-filled sky. And as he searched hopelessly for a star, he realized that he had success, and acceptance, and money. And he had never felt more weighed down in his entire life.

Suddenly he was filled with anger; anger at everyone else for taking his wishes and mangling them, and anger at himself for believing that they were still his.

So without thinking or hesitating, he got in his car, drove to the bank, and closed his accounts. He went home and grabbed the few objects that mattered. Then he drove for hours, out into the countryside, away from everything that meant nothing. And he got out of his car and looked at the stars.

Beautiful thoughts came flooding into his mind – old dreams that had been long forgotten and new dreams that had never been noticed. Smiling tentatively, he wrote them all on a crumpled piece of paper. And he folded it carefully up.

And he flew again.

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