Trying to Save the World

Maria Matienzo Puerto

When I was a child I dreamed of saving the world.  Photo: Caridad
"When I was a child I dreamed of saving the world." Photo: Caridad

When I was a child I imagined myself as the world’s savior, a sort of Captain Planet stamping out evil.  In my fantasies, I could save a princess, prince or even myself, if I were in danger.

Sometimes, when I was going to cross the street, I would imagine a car jumping out of nowhere just when a boy was crossing the street.  I would grab the boy and at supersonic speed whisk him out of danger.  In others, I imagined the accident and myself, in the middle, helping the injured, who later would thank me with a smile.

In this way, in my mind I became a lifeguard at a beach where I would save beach goers from vicious sharks; a police officer preventing armed robberies of trucks loaded with milk; a camper who put out a fire so big that it could have destroyed the entire forest; a good Samaritan who distributed food and clothing in the poor neighborhoods; or a philanthropist who, after having received a large inheritance, helped out at least a dozen people.

In my head, I imagined all kinds of different ways of saving people.  Maybe I believed too much in the ideal of helping out the rest of humanity more than oneself.  My romanticism was such that I could spend hours wrapped up in this fantasy world.

Around this time, I would have liked to have become a doctor or fire-fighter, because I didn’t know that there were NGOs dedicated to what I so much wanted to do.  When I grew up I realized that I couldn’t just become part of a group of volunteers that wondered around the Americas handing out aid.  Because our [Cuba’s] brand of solidarity is officially controlled.

I would have liked to have joined Green Peace or some other NGO (I confess I don’t know many others), but I had no idea how to proceed, if indeed there is some way for Cubans to join these types of NGOs.

Although time has past and I no longer dream about these types of grandiose rescues, I still maintain a little hope, and I still dream, at times with open eyes.  I dream that I am a police officer that says good afternoon and shows respect while asking someone for their ID.  I dream that I am a security guard at a museum or an art gallery that highlights the value of Cuban art to visitors; or a librarian who knows where a good book lies; or a doorperson who is friendly and sometimes answers yes.

But I am none of these and I have overcome this trauma of trying to save everyone.  On the other hand, my imagination has only brought me to writing, to see if I can save a captured princess, a cowardly prince or myself, if I were in danger.