It’s a tale as old as time, really. Humans have always been drawn to power, to beauty, to glory. To everything that will eventually be their undoing. Throughout history, brilliant men and women have found themselves seized by a deep, subconscious desire that has slowly consumed them fully. There has always been this undying wish, this undeniable thirst, to prove their worth and to leave behind something. A mark; a scar. Anything to let it be known that they once lived. That they once walked this very Earth.
Let me tell you a story. 10,000 years ago, a young child stumbled upon a cave hidden in the mountainside while tending to his herd. Ignoring his mother’s calls for supper, he went to explore, to poke around and see all that his little heart desired. He took in everything: the irregular rocks, the eroded walls, the pile of bones crushed to pieces, and the little stream trickling out of a tiny crevice. But when it’s time to leave, the boy still felt something intrinsically missing. Suddenly seized by the urge to just do something, he dipped his hand in the mud beneath his feet, jumped onto some precariously balanced rocks and left a handprint on the wall. He stepped back and smiled, looking at the handprint. “I was here”, it seemed to say. The hand on the wall just might end up being the mark that he was supposed to leave in the world. The proof, the evidence that he once existed. A testament.
Time skip: it’s Russia, 1989. A girl with choppy black hair and dark eyeliner trudges along dark alleyways, smoking cigarettes. The walls are lined with posters and banners; some torn and tattered, others still unspoiled and new. Every day, new posters are put up to replace the ones that are lost; much like the humans fighting this long, seemingly endless war, Turning into a particularly narrow street, she manages to witness the last of a terrific battle between the wind and a flyer. As the flyer abandons the futile attempts to remain stuck on the wall and is blown away by the wind, the girl realizes that it bears the same words she has tattooed on her neck. Vive la Revolution; very fitting, considering how for her, every day is a battle, against communism, against terrorists, against violence. Crouching in the shadows, she drops the act. Her tears begin to fall as she sucks in a shaking breath. Sometimes you need to fall to get back up again.
We must look elsewhere: England, 1593. William Shakespeare sits hunched over his desk, an oil lantern casting a ghostly glow on his face. Raking a hand through his hair, he groans in frustration. Titus Andronicus had been one of his favorite plays to work on, until now. The subject of his frustration was none other than Act 4, Scene 2. Enter Demetrius, enter Aaron; now what? It seems as if words have eluded him. Not a particularly patient man, Shakespeare was at his limit now, having tried to complete this scene for the past two hours. Swearing under his breath, he slams his head on the desk, until it hits him! He knocks over the lantern reaching for his quill, and begins to write furiously. Looking at his finished work, he smirks deviously. “Villain, I have done thy mother.” There, he had done it. The world’s first your-mom joke!
What an intriguing comparison: a young boy, a teenage girl, and the greatest playwright of his time. All three of them find themselves in turmoil of various kinds. For one, it is his despicable curfew that plagues him; for another, a crumbling world she desperately wants to save. And for our third guinea pig – I mean, example, the brilliance of his own mind has led to such high standards for himself, that it is only when doing something ridiculous he ultimately feels satisfied. The boy fulfills his wish by marking the cave as his, leaving behind a little mark. That single handprint is like a child writing their name on one of their toys, staking their claim. For the girl, in a nightmarish world where everything is uncertain and the world as she knows it is collapsing, she tries to make herself strong. Tattoos and edgy hair, bold makeup and cigarettes, while she stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the other dissatisfied souls, rioting and protesting for a better life; bringing revolutions upon revolutions.
Humans are by nature, always in search of something more. A direct comparison can be drawn to a moth with a flame. What we want the most, the bane of our desires, the crux of everything, is to feel invincible. Even for a single, fleeting moment. To be free, to feel as if nothing in the world can take us down. To break free from all that is expected of us and to find what defines us. To listen to our heart’s every whim and actually have the power and courage to make it happen. Because only by being true to ourselves, by doing what makes us feel good, what draws us in, and what inspires us, can we be at the top of our own little world. And this can be done by something as huge as a nation-wide protest, or something as seemingly tiny as a your-mom joke. That’s because in the end, everybody wants to rule the world.