“Sometimes I have been seized by the childish desire never to return to the burrow again, but to settle down somewhere close to the entrance, to pass my life watching the entrance, and gloat perpetually upon the reflection — and in that find my happiness — how steadfast a protection my burrow would be if I were inside it.”
— Frank Kafka, The Burrow (1931)
There once was a girl, with a hair she called the ‘Annaliese-hair’, that she loved to wear since those mornings when she was a child where she used to watch Barbie as The Princess and The Pauper and she’d ask her mom to do her hair as Princess Annaliese’s. In the movie, Princess Annaliese switched lives with Erika, a girl who is a splitting-image of her, and for some moments, they both had a lie as a life.
For years, the girl had a thing on her mind. She wanted her life to be free of problems. To only be filled with happiness and good things. She believed that was the definition of a good life, after hearing people’s wishes on her birthdays where they always say, “i wish for you to always be happy!”
But that’s a lie. She believed in a lie. A great big lie of life.
As she grew older, she found the hurt in disappointment and betrayals. What a waste of happiness, she would think, if it could be destroyed in a whim. Then, she thought, maybe it is better if she were not to feel. That way, nothing could hurt her. She wouldn’t feel anything bad cause the feelings weren’t there to begin with. She decided it was better to feel numb.
Later on in life, she had noticed that it is merely impossible for someone to not feel, or to always be happy, to never feel angry or sad or disappointed.
We are not robots. We are humans. Humans have emotions. These emotions make humans do things recklessly, sometimes, that would cause problems. Or they’d encounter problematic things that is out of their way to predict. And it seems that they would want to run away from those problems in front of them because they feel a certain way about it, by not acknowledging it or even wishing they had a different life.
The truth is, when one avoids facing problems, one avoids growing.
When one find themselves wishing to have someone else’s life, they are idealizing a certain kind of life they believe is ‘better’, mostly comes with the idea of not having the problems they currently have. In reality, they would face another problem in that idealized life and they would wish to have another kind of life and the cycle goes on and on and on.
This concept of idealizing is similar to how Kafka means in one of his famous stories, “The Burrow” (1931). Though not precisely, it tells how one often find enjoyment in imagining being someplace other than theirs.
Humans learn when they are able to find solutions for their problems. They need to know how to handle their sadness and fear, and anger, and disappointment, and hopelessness. Or how to contain they excitement and happiness. That’s how humans grow, by facing their problems with controlled emotions.
Thinking about this makes the girl thinks of the things and emotions she had run away from, because she felt she wasn’t ready to face it. Then she wonders, again (she certainly wonders a lot), what does it mean when we say we aren’t ready for certain things? Is that us being wise by knowing our capacity or is that simply our excuse in avoiding to grow — which is what we’re meant to do as humans?