Today is January 31… A date that seems unassuming and unimportant. But in fact it is very important…
You may be asking yourselves, “Why Farheen? Why is this date important?” It is not because in 1606, Guy Fawkes was executed or because in 1919, Jackie Robinson was born. It’s not because in 1956, A. A. Milne died today or because the Soviet Union exiled Trotsky on today’s date in 1929… All important events in history, but for me, a more important event occurred. A fictional event, no less.
Today is the day that Charlie found the ticket… Bewildered? Don’t be, I will explain. On today’s date, in the children’s classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the hero Charlie, finds the fifth and final Golden Ticket, winning him the chance of a lifetime, a tour of Willy Wonka’s enigmatic chocolate factory. Mr. Roald Dahl, you changed my life by writing this book.
When I was young, I despised reading. It didn’t engage me until maybe fourth or fifth grade. One of the authors who awakened my dormant imagination was Roald Dahl. Primarily because of C&CF. I loved this book so much, I read four paperback copies to tatters. I finally acquired a hardcover edition as an adult, because I still read it that much.
Today’s date is one of the most important events in the book. As I said, Charlie finds the last Golden Ticket, which changes his life for the better. When I was younger, I would daydream about being in Charlie’s shoes. My family didn’t have mad loads of cash when I was growing up. We weren’t poor as the Bucket family, but I remember when Dad got laid off from GM or when we had some struggles as Dad tried to run a business. Both my parents were immigrants and worked very hard to provide what was needed. And often times that meant we had to go without some luxuries. Relating to Charlie was easy (because in my child mind, we were just as poor), and so it was natural that I wanted to live by a chocolate factory and be able to go in and see its wonders and the Oompa Loompas.
The story captivated me and shaped my idea of the world. People who were bad would get what was coming to them. People who were good would be richly rewarded, just as Charlie was. Average people would fade into the background, there but insignificant. Unbeknownst to me, the underlying ideas seeped into my mind and even as an adult, I perceived the world as if it was Charlie’s world. The truth is if I ever find money in the street, I buy a lottery ticket thinking that like Charlie, I will win something. But I never do.
In recent years, I grew increasingly bitter about what messages this little book burned into my mind. How life really is not black and white the way I perceived it to be, because of it. Yet I am suddenly thinking that perhaps I have misinterpreted the message in the action of Charlie buying candy bars and suddenly being rewarded. Charlie always sacrificed for his family. He always worried about his parents and grandparents and the extreme poverty they suffered from. So when he finds the money, his motive is not to win a golden ticket, but to do something good for himself. My motive of winning millions of dollars is not on par with what Charlie’s motive is. Mine is low and petty. What Charlie is demonstrating is that while it is good to care about other people, sometimes you have to take care of yourself. If you take care of yourself, you will change your life for the better.
So today, after almost 25 years of having the key buried in my brain, I finally understand what everyone has been saying to me all along. The key to achieving some semblence of happiness is to balance caring about other people and caring about yourself. My apologies Roald Dahl, for ever doubting you. And the reason this is on my mind is because I have not been kind to myself in recent years. I have been nicer to others anyway.
Incidentally, I live down the street from the Wonka Factory. My lovely sister pointed out that one of my childhood dreams had come true, the day I moved in. I hadn’t noticed until she said it. Funny how you sometimes forget what you used to dream about when you were a kid. I may have forgotten that, but I hope that I, like Charlie, can take care of myself. For as the time was ripe for Augustus Gloop to go up the pipe, its time for me to care.
I’ve got a golden ticket…