Whitlam Institute

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

What Matters 2019 Shortlist

Chained dreams

Chained dreams

Maya Neish

Year 9, St Mary's Anglican Girls School

What matters? There are many people that have different ideas of what matters, some more questionable than others. Some people yearn for wealth, some fantasize love and some even crave power. For others, it's far more sentimental. What matters to me is something that only those who've experienced it can understand.

My Dad isn't well. Saying it out loud is daunting but he can't do what other people can. He can't walk without some sort of support for too long, he can't breathe without his lungs teasing his ribs. That to me, matters the most in the world. Luckily for me, I'm in good health. I have the freedom to express my physical wants and needs whenever I can. As for my Dad, he's denied that freedom.

Most days when I was younger, I'd think about how in the future me and my Dad would move to a big city and go fishing and mining together. Live in the life of any ordinary family. Unfortunately, not every naive thought that tumbled through my mind came true.

Sometimes, he'd say to enjoy the things he can't experience. To live for him. Yet how can I enjoy the things in life when he can't be by my side? How can I stand on my own two feet every day without reminding myself that he can't feel the tremble of the ground with me? The thing that matters most to me, is having those sensations come to him. Feeling the wind brush against his face, wearing the confident stride he desperately needs, to breathe in the sweet scent of the tragic story of the Earth. Or even being able to talk without having chains wrapped tightly around his lips. To watch the world with the eyes of an elder, to be able to swim in the tidal wave of emotions that come with youth. To be able to attend his son's graduation, to watch that certificate being passed into his hands.

I know he wants all of this because sometimes he cries. Sometimes he cries so loudly that I have to cover my ears, he cries for the things that were cruelly taken away from him. For the times where he couldn't catch me when I fell, he weeps for how he abandoned his dreams just to take care of a third wheel of a two broken part story. Seeing him in a hospital bed, barely clinging on to the miserable restraints that he despises is something that taunts me endlessly. He chokes up when he whispers 'I'd live for you'. I hate that I'm the one who has to suffer on his behalf.

Why am I saying this? Because everything that I said is something that none of us seem to think about when we think of gratitude. When somebody falls from the never-ending tight walk of depression, do they make a sound? Bringing awareness to mental health is one thing, but bringing our attention to the reason is behind the sprawled out web of misconceptions.

What matters is remembering how much people sacrifice for the people they love. How much they're willing to pay for your success and how the burdens of life are lifted off of your shoulders to be placed on someone else's because life can be cruel. Even if it requires breaking our own social conducts and barriers, the truths need to be heard by those who don't understand.

What matters to me, is ensuring that those who can't say what they want can scream it through those who can.