*insert dream-scape jingle and filter*
It began on a tour bus, which made sense since these things were everywhere in Iceland. My bus stopped in front of a very Asian-esque, very cutesy shopping mall. Like, imagine a Sanrio-themed mall. Hello Kitty, My Melody, Badtz-Maru, etc. everywhere. Every Asian kid's dream...and apparently my dream too.
Our tour guide, a Korean woman in a dress suit and with her hair in a tight bun, welcomed us to the mall. Why a Korean woman? Good question.
"Come, and let me show you around."
We walked into the mall. There were several other tours going on around us all led by Korean women who looked just like my guide. It was like Nurse Joy or Officer Jenny from Pokémon—they all looked the same (and not in the "all Asians look the same" same). The ceiling was at least, like, a mile high, pillars of Atlas (yes, the Greek god) holding it up. Sanrio plushies lined the walls. It was crowded.
As my Korean tour guide was talking, I noticed something strange. People were just walking around (as one would do in a mall), but they were doing so aimlessly. They seemed dead inside, lost, confused, and I thought that was really bizarre. Where was I?
The tour guide then started asking people in my group one question.
"So tell us, who are you?"
The bald man in my group began to respond. "Me? I'm David. I'm the CEO of an advertising agency." He then gave the tour guide a weird look and coughed. She just urged him to go on. "Ok, I am also an avid traveller. I'm gay and I'm a foodie." Suddenly, his eyes lost its glimmer and he started walking around aimlessly as well. The tour guide went on to the next person, and the next, and the next. The same results with each one.
When my tour guide turned to me, I began to panic. It was then that I realized all the Korean women in this deceptively glorious mall were stealing our identities. I looked around. People were wandering haphazardly, zombie-like. I felt very afraid.
"Tell us, who are you?"
I couldn't stop myself; I was on autopilot. "I am a copyeditor, though I went to school for public relations. I am an avid consumer of books and media. I am a musician." It was weird. As I was saying these things, I felt as if something was leaving my body, as if pieces of my soul escaped with the words I said.
"Tell us, who are you?" she urged. I was losing consciousness, and though I wasn't all lost yet, I knew that this next thing I was going to identify myself with would condemn me to walk within the walls of this mall forever.
"I am a child of God."
And as abruptly as that man earlier lost his way, all clarity came flooding to me. I knew who I was, who I am. I gained a confidence that stemmed from my identity—my divinity.
And with that, I had a desire to tell everyone in the mall who they were too. I grabbed the last person in my group and dragged him along as I ran around shouting, "You're all children of God! You are all divine!"
*end dream-scape jingle and filter out*
I awoke, atop my bunk in the hostel. The "recovering alcoholic," as the Canadian in the bunk next to mine called himself, selfishly, and rather loudly, inhaled what oxygen was left in the room and exhaled his addition of hungover morning breath to the mix of carbon dioxide and huldufólk elven dust. I laid there, stared at the ceiling and reviewed my slumber from the night as my seven roommates continued to sleep soundly.
I am divine. You are divine. This is the identity that matters most in our time on earth.
And if we all would just remember that and treated each other as such, if we didn't mark each other with arbitrary labels...my, oh my, what a beautiful world we'd live in.