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– hey, can you play some music?
I could not stand the silence. although there were cars honking and raindrops trying to break in through the roof of my car, I did not feel like I wanted to stand it.
talking to the male mechanical voice with a British accent in my phone has been a habit for a long time. well, there was no one else to talk to.
to be honest, his music taste has always been awful. he tried to offer songs that should interest me, but the trials were futile. however, I had to listen to something while being stuck in this traffic jam, and searching for music myself was too much trouble when you’re low on resources. at least that’s what my psychotherapist said. that my batteries were working on nothing. I knew what happens when there is no power left and, honestly, I did not mind anymore. it was going to be painful, but nothing I haven’t been through.
I have always loved music. I listen to music when I wake up, listen to it while brushing my teeth or making something to eat. I have music on when I am studying or walking. the only occasion when I don’t listen to music is when I play an instrument or talk to someone. but I had no piano in that new studio of mine, and there was no one to talk to at that time. it seemed like I was always alone. thus, always playing music.
but people have no idea how hard it is to choose music when you are a living zombie, trying to keep yourself relatively (in)sane. that is why I needed to ask my phone for help, when I could not choose anything to listen to.
– here’s some music for you, Aidana.
that time an artificial intelligence inside of a cellular prison did a surprisingly good job. I said thanks. it was silent for a moment.
then “Wishing On a Star” by BTS began playing.
how do people come up with such ideas? I never understood how one could take something saddening and put it into a new shape, giving it a new meaning and spreading hope with it.
what I love about this song is that it is not one of BTS’s dance tracks, and neither was it a rap-diss, nor was it “Spring Day”-like heart-melting honey. It’s just perfect for a day like that, when you need a beat to carry you on a little further, so that you can breathe for a couple more minutes, and still have a deep meaning that makes your heart ache every time you read the words out loud.
that day I was playing “Wishing On a Star” in a traffic jam. I loved traffic jams and always imagined myself to be standing in one. this was a place to stay for me. I would love to be stuck in a traffic jam for hours, when I did not feel capable of living. this was a kind of situation where you don’t have to do anything, because you simply can’t — you’re physically stuck. I loved it. you could stay motionless for hours and hours, without blaming yourself for being lazy. beautiful, isn’t it?
what stopped me from hiding in traffic jams is that I was in a foreign country with no valid driver’s license. I’d have to pass an exam and pay for it if I wanted to be stuck in a traffic jam. but again, the town I lived in was way too small to have the rush-hour I needed. it was like a forest with no predator big enough to satisfy me. nothing was able to steal my time effectively.
at one point I thought, if a car was Macondo, I would love to spend a two h(undred years)ours of solitude in it. but I did not even have a car to begin with. and so, I would have had to wait for another three to four years until I could fulfill this strange solitary dream of mine.
I dreamed of someone taking me to a traffic jam. I would just sing songs for hours straight or do things that brought some enjoyment. it’s strange I was still enjoying things. sometimes it felt like I was broken beyond repair and the only thing that kept me going was that I haven’t been in a traffic jam on my own yet, always with someone else driving. but I needed that moment so bad, it helped me to live through the toughest times.
it’s was sad. it was all so sad.
do you know where sadness lives in us? I always imagined mine is a pitch-black swamp in the center of my solar plexus, a heart chakra, as my psychotherapist named it. not the kind of darkness philosophers talk about, when they talk about light not existing without shadows. life is shadows we all live in. therefore, this inner swamp of mine must have been something else, must have been something scarier than a mere lightlessness that can be easily cast away by a single candle.
there are so many different sadnesses in the world, small and big. people say when you feel bad, you tend to think that is only happening to you and no one else. well, for me, it is the opposite. whenever I feel bad, I am reminded about this huge entity of sadnesses that floats around us day and night.
funny thing is that sadness does not look like a hunched back or a missing limb. it often looks just fine, non-pathological, yet it is extremely painful. when a soul is being torn apart, the body aches too. how does one live without a soul?
my thoughts always wandered into a very sad place, as they should. but there I was, back to the traffic and music, brought back to the world with the male mechanical voice with a British accent in my phone.
my frustration reached its melting point.
and then the song ended. as it should. and I had to live my life again.
do you know that feeling where hopeful songs make you sad just because you don’t think you’ll ever be hopeful again? well, you probably will; no sadness lasts forever, but every time you fall down that hole, every time you are eaten by the darkness within, you think it’s the last time. you say “that’s it.” and then “so it goes.” but a daily norm of bombs has already been distributed and you find yourself physically intact in the center of a city destroyed to dust. inside you’re just another broken sailing ship with no compass and no hope returning to the cheerful and colorful dock you once left.
this is what “Wishing On a Star” has been for me, when I was at my lowest — something that brought me the energy to live.
a year ago, in September 2020, I was finishing an internship in a hospital, which should have helped me with my upcoming medical study, or so I supposed. I never studied medicine ever for a day, as I never got a place in a university. summer 2020 has been a burning scar in my soul for a year now, as my eight years long dream broke and I was lost like never before. the sun shone on everything awful, and i discovered that those who say it’s silent in the middle of a storm tell us lies.
the only voice I wanted to listen to was Namjoon’s. if I were to count the number of times I listened to his verse in this song, stars would have to fade shyly, as my number probably exceeds theirs. I would stare at the night or early morning sky that still bore something to wish on and hear BTS sing about dreams and wishes that weren’t coming true for me. surprisingly, this made me feel miserable and consoled at the same time.
I thought I would never dream again; thought there would be nothing to run for in this life. good thing I was wrong, but I lived without a dream for a long time, almost eight months to be precise, and it was not something I used to do.
I was walking alone in the darkness, both within and outside, looking for a star to ask for anything to come true. now I think I was wrong trying to connect my dream to a celestial body, which is probably dead by now, and all we see is a gas ball of hydrogen and helium, as it had been thousands of years ago. instead, I should have been looking for a star inside of the black hole in my chest, one that would cast the heavy lightlessness away. the star is supposed to be much more powerful than a candle, right?
when the world seemed too huge to fit me, BTS narrowed it down to a street, a tree, a minute. they made me hold onto small things, like a song, and move further and further, until you can finally keep on living without explaining to yourself why you have to do it. they made it so much simpler to live and, most importantly, to run towards something again.
“You grow not as much as you hurt, but as much as you heal.” it hurt to see my life run through my fingers, but it feels great to heal. at first, healing is terrible. and then you’re able to find beauty in it, as people do in anything else. I needed to hear that from someone, and BTS’s words are something that influences me the most, even when I am covering my ears for everyone else.
I am now, too, running with my heart towards a freshly found dream of mine. and I would like to keep this feeling of making wishes and staying hopeful that they are fulfilled for the rest of my life. now I know I have me, and that it should be enough, even if this new dream breaks too. so now I am aiming for bigger pieces. I am aiming for my life.
— Aidana Smagulova
Words are how I express myself, so I can‘t help but write about everything around me (Germany).
Illustration By: Circa, @circadraws
I would like to thank my precious friends Kam and Angie for not only helping me through the darkest period of my life, but also supporting me on this journey to my creativity. I appreciate Kam’s feedback alongside with Angie’s technical and moral support. Thank you for staying with me.
Smagulova, A. (2021). Wishing on myself. The Rhizomatic Revolution Review , (3). https://ther3journal.com/issue-3/wishing-on-myself.
Smagulova, Aidana. “Wishing on Myself.” The Rhizomatic Revolution Review , no. 3, 2021, https://ther3journal.com/issue-3/wishing-on-myself.
Wishing on Myself by Aidana Smagulova is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
@Aidana Smagulova, 2021