a day in the life

Image Credit: OnConference.com

The restroom smelled of acrid decay, mostly emanating from the pools in the corner, and I instinctively stopped at the sink to wash my hands.  I could feel the stink of the place on my flesh.  When I looked up, the wizard in the mirror said, “The trick is to believe you are where you want to be.”  I blinked and he was gone.

I long blinked again and then held my tired lids closed and imagined the smell of sea spray filling my nose while the crash and roar of the tides echoed in the distance.  I wasn’t surprised to find myself in the same dingy bathroom when I opened my eyes.  I could see where I wanted to be.  I could hear it and smell it.  However, I never truly believed I was there.

The level of faith and trust required to truly believe in something had never come easy to me.  My mind worshipped logic and my heart beat to the rhythm of mathematics.  One of the yellowed iridescent bulbs over the sink flickered in response to my distracted lingering and I turned off the faucet and carefully stepped away in search of a towel to dry my hands.  The wizard winked at me from the air blower by the door.

I wiped my hands on my pant legs to avoid that germ fest and used my back to push open the door.  I considered the cost of the shirt I was wearing and briefly debated burning it rather than throwing in my washing machine when I got home.  Sound reasoning, however, swayed me quickly to the side of soap turned to sounds through mechanical agitation.

The hallway was lined in copies and bad knock-offs of famous paintings and I shook my head in disgust at the ruse of our dying culture.  It reeked of desperation to fake high society rather than own the truth of our reality.  The wizard stepped in to replace the screamer and whispered, “The trick is to believe you are what you want to be.”  I ignored him and carried on down the hall.

I walked purposefully, holding eye contact with those I passed, and projecting confidence and an exuberance for the mundane rituals of our pointless lives.  Again, though, I was not immediately successful or happy.  I knew what it meant to be both.  I knew what it took.  However, I did not believe I was worthy of either.

The office smelled of futile decay.  A sea of cubicles, awash with wasted life, drifted with the tides of change.  Eyes shifted above glowing screens to mark my progress across the floor.  I could hear their thoughts, a cacophony of pleas for freedom, and the weight of their cries slowed my steps.  Laughter, cruel and low, caused me to turn and see the wizard staring at me from a nearby computer monitor.

I hated him.  His mocking promises and half-truths had haunted me since I first began to understand what it meant to be a contributing member of society and the shiny gloss of a child’s dream of adulthood quickly wore away.  I knew he was a figment of my stifled imagination, logically, and I would never be free of him, but his demand for faith was something I could never supply.

what is it for you?

Image Credit: Studded Hearts

The light flashed across the slick blacktop, blinding for an instant before sliding away on its ever revolving path.  It would strike me three more times before I passed it by.  Four moments of sightless travel on a rain soaked journey through the darkness.  Is it faith, experience, or naiveté that carries me through those moments fearlessly?

The boy child from the equator has woken grumpy from his years-long nap.  The tantrum he shall unleash will cause mudslides, spinouts, fallen limbs and trees.  There will be damage and chaos, though he will take no delight in that aspect of it.  The child is too immature to know anything beyond whatever emotion currently holds sway.  My journey will intersect with his fussiness several times in the coming days and months.  Is it faith, experience, or naiveté that allows me to face each new drive without fear?

The future beckons from the horizon.  The world spins towards it but will never catch it.  The unknowns, the mysteries, the triumphs and the tragedies all remain elusively hidden just beyond our sight.  I will never know what twists and turns are waiting for me, but I venture out anyway. Is it faith, experience, or naiveté that fuels my fear free actions?

Or, is it something else?  A sense of responsibility?  A need to please those around me?  An ideal I’m striving for?

We face countless decisions each day that dictate the urgency with which we travel our unique paths and how close we allow those paths to veer towards danger.  And most of those decisions we make without actually giving any weighty thought to: driving cars, the food we eat and drink, sitting at computers eight hours a day, etc…  There is inherent risk in all of it.

So, what is it that allows us to so callously ignore these dangers every day?  Is it faith?  Is it experience?  Is it naiveté?  What is it for you?

high hopes

Image Credit: Xavier.edu

He lifts and presses his fingers in an intricate play of motion and sound, and creates a masterpiece of words in beautiful imagery.  The stories speak of pain and love, hard truths and beautiful fantasies, and he sends them into the world with high hopes.  He is proud of them.  They are like his children and he is setting them free to make their own way.

Perhaps his hopes, his expectations, were too high.

The current world is not kind to beautiful things.  Sometimes it breaks them up and tears them down.  Sometimes it merely laughs for all the wrong reasons.  Occasionally, and worst of all, the world turns its back on beauty, ignoring it and letting it wither away unto death.

“Such is the sad state of our times,” the talking heads cluck before giggling about the antics of the latest internet celebrity wearing a toilet seat necklace and upside-down pants.  “What can you do?  Pander to the lowest common denominator of popular culture or face the torturous agony of certain irrelevance.”

Though, in truth, the talking heads would never speak so eloquently.  This he knows just as he knows his words, his children, are going to struggle once they leave him.  That, however, doesn’t make it any less necessary for them to be set free.  There is risk, but only with risk is there the chance for greatest success.

Perhaps his hopes, his expectations, weren’t too high.

He lifts and presses his fingers in an intricate balance of characters and worlds, spun together for the entertainment of those brave enough to read more than the standard faire provided by the money driven words industry.  There was no profit formula.  There was no demand for demographics or tired plot lines.  But, there was plenty of hope.

After all, it costs nothing to hope.

tricks

Image Credit: olderparenting.com

The morning swallowed the shifting lights spread across the landscape.  They wavered and then disappeared as the darkness overtook them.  Clouds blotted out the stars and the rolling fog took care of the rest.  Nothing existed beyond the puffs of my warm breath in the cold air.  The silence of loneliness thundered and echoed in my mind.

Just one of the tricks we allow ourselves to be deceived by.

The lights, the noise, the teeming masses of civilization were still there even though they couldn’t be seen.  But that brief moment when the world goes dark is enough to send our thoughts into waves of panic.  The what of our simple routines crashing down were replaced by the how of the struggle of survival to come.

The entire course of our existence changes in that instant of doubt and fear.

The fog lifted and the glare of our presence, the sheer volume of the evidence that we are here, that we are alive, that we matter, temporarily blinded me with its sharp contrast to the darkness that previously held sway.  The clouds moved on, and the stars twinkled in response and mockery of our feeble displays of might.

Our stubborn ignorance and naiveté are what keep us from slipping over the edge of insanity.

The promise of the sun softened the darkness loitering on the horizon and I fell back into my daily routines.  All was right.  All was well.  My path and purpose in the world were true to me again.  Careers and love and the pursuit of happiness regained their position of prominence.  Nothing mattered more.

Even when the sun blocks our view of them, the stars laugh at our ignorance.

I played my part in our economical game of charades dutifully and then made the reverse trek to the square of concreted nature I call my home.  I hugged my wife and played with my child, emboldened by smiles, laughter and fellowship.  I went to bed content that I was living life to the fullest.  I wanted for nothing.  I mattered.

Just another trick we allow ourselves to be deceived by.