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.