Let’s set the scene:
It’s 2am. You’re hungry. Mom’s vegan tuna salad didn’t fill you up all that much, mostly because you scraped it into the trashcan when she wasn’t looking. You toss and turn in bed, deciding whether or not to go downstairs and find something to eat.
Fuck it. You decide to go for it.
You anxiously creep down the stairs, pausing after each step, listening carefully to make sure you haven’t woken your parents. At the bottom, you smile. The hardest part is out of the way. Next stop: the kitchen.
Now in front of the pantry, you mull over your options. Chips? No, too loud. Fruit? Who are you kidding, it’s two in the morning. You’re not going to eat a banana. Your eyes settle on the chocolate chip cookies. They’re practically calling your name. Your willpower is weak. You give in.
You’re hunched over in front of the counter, going to town on these cookies like a little goblin. For a moment, you’re almost embarrassed for yourself. But it’s okay. You’re not defined by this moment. You could stop at any time. You’re better than this, you think to yourself, because you surpass this moment, this carnal act.
Then, a noise. A creak behind you. In an instant, you cycle through a thousand emotions, but foremost among them is shame. Suddenly, your transcendence of your actions seems fake, a deception to serve as a poor attempt at self-evasion of the fact that you are, at the end of the day, a cookie-eating gremlin, and that’s all you’ll ever be.
You feel powerless to assert your freedom. You become aware of the fact that no matter what you do, you might be being watched, and the freedom of the watcher dominates you.
It’s only been a few seconds but it feels like years. You swivel around to confront the one who’s discovered you.
But wait… no one’s there. It was the wind, or the house settling, or a mouse in the walls, you’re not quite sure, but most importantly, it wasn’t another person.
Suddenly, the world comes back to you. The objects around you become yours to use again, and you feel your control over your reality snap back into place. Looking back at the cookies, you come to realize that you aren’t defined by your past. You ate those cookies, with your primal urges overtaking you, at an uncivilized hour of the night, but you can do better next time, and so you choose to walk back to bed, head held high.