Policeman in a Bottle – Jina Wallwork
It is such a thoughtful gift. The label states this is a helper in a bottle. The sender explains how they should help and then the receiver simply opens the bottle. I read the instructions fully before I release my tiny hero. As I remove him from the bottle he begins to yell. There is a massive list of instructions on how to improve my life. I question how this is supposed to help but I listen to the tiny police officer, as he talks of fixing my life. I smile because I can see the good intentions of the sender, but I do not require a miniature life manager. He begins to wag his finger, as he explains the acts I should take. I listen to the world’s tiniest authority as I begin to tire. I wonder how to put him back in the bottle. I wonder why I let him out. I try to talk but he doesn’t listen. He tells me that he already has full instructions on how to help. This doesn’t even resemble help. It seems distant from useful assistance.
I tell him that my life is fine, and I point to the blue skies and sunshine that surrounds me. He ignores me and talks only of the rain clouds. Perhaps on some days I do the same. As he continues to speak, I begin to appreciate my cute little hero. He is misguided but he delivers a good heart and I can see it shine through this tiny little man. However, if I listened to his suggestions the consequences would be dire. The life he suggests is ill suited and constraining. I know I’ve made bad decisions. I know I will do the same again, but they are my mistakes to make. How will I grow and learn if I don’t get to face the lessons I need? It is my decisions that will lead me to where I need to be, I don’t require anything else.
I feel as though my authority is strong and I tell him to return to the bottle. He refuses and tells me that I must send him to someone else. He requires instructions on how to help them, without it I will not see him within the glass. I explain that I don’t know how to help. He looks at me puzzled and a little shocked, but I feel ill equipped to give a better explanation. I tell him that help means something different depending on who you are. It’s not for others to decide what you need. When it comes to your own life, you are the greatest authority. The help that you give another will always need to be restrained, because there must always be space for them to make their own decisions without manipulation or pressure. You can’t know what is best for another person; you can only understand your own needs and desires. You cannot believe that everyone’s desires will be the same as your own. As I speak, I hope that he understands my words. I recognize that I have made his job a million times harder and I worry for him, as I return him to the bottle.
He sits within the glass and he takes out a small book. I catch a glimpse of the writing it says, ‘teach her to find a path that is appropriate for who she is.’ He ticks the corresponding box, to show the task is complete. I feel as though I have been manipulated into defending my own path and voicing my own needs. Then I smile as I realize the importance of what I have learned. I thank him for his help, and I send him on his way.