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.

the familiar bite

Beep.
Beep.

Beep.

BEEP.

He stirs and hits the button to silence the alarm without opening his eyes.  Struggling against the covers he manages to heave his body into a sitting position.  His hands rub his eyes with a vengeance and they are finally able to open and blink against the darkness of the room.  Another day.

Reaching to his nightstand he grabs the glass of water and pill container.  Pop.  Pop.  Glug.  Glug.  He shudders as the familiar bite slides down his throat.  Then he pushes himself to his feet and shuffles into his day.

Ring.
Ring.

Ring.

RING.

Opening bell, the market is open.  His eyes scan the numbers.  Green is good.  Red is bad.  His mind takes it all in and processes the calculations and possibilities, all fueled by the morning dose of meds.  But, he can feel them wearing off.  The scrolling symbols and values are starting to blur.  The day has just started.

He lets his vision slide away from the screen long enough to assist his hand in locating the bottle of water stored next to the keyboard while his other hand opens the top drawer and pulls out the pill container.  Pop.  Pop.  Glug.  Glug.  He shudders as the familiar bite slides down his throat.  His eyes snap back to the stock board and he rises into action, calling out orders, changing the world.

Honk.
Honk.

Honk.

HONK.

He would love to move, to oblige the car behind him and carry on through the intersection, but there is no place for him to go, just as there is no place for the car in front of him to go either.  Rush hour.  Everyone flooding the streets to race home to their families, their dinners, their televisions, their vices.  He considers replying to the horn with a hand gesture, but the throbbing in his head changes his mind.

His scan from rearview mirror to windshield to the bottle of water on his passenger seat and he grabs it and then pops open the glove box and removes the pill container with familiar ease.  Pop.  Pop.  Glug.  Glug.  He shudders as the familiar bite slides down his throat.  The red light changes to green and he slowly removes the pressure on the brake so his car can gently resume his homeward bound progress.

Beep.
Beep.

Beep.

BEEP.

He yanks open the microwave door and carefully removes his steaming dinner, beef stroganoff.  He pokes at the contents of the plastic tray as he makes his way to his couch and the small table he has set up there.  Taking in a forkful he frowns as the bland and slimy noodles dance across his tongue.  His dinner is boring.  His life is boring and he aches for so much more.

He isn’t even really watching the TV so he doesn’t miss anything as he reaches between the couch cushions and pulls out the pill container he keeps there and then grabs the water glass from the table in front of him.  Pop.  Pop.  Glug.  Glug.  He shudders as the familiar bite slides down his throat.  Then the room swirls around him as he brings a close to another day.

depositphotos_5815981-Spilled-pillsImage Credit: LedyCap

 

 

reflections on the day

I stepped into the moonless and sunless morning, the stars my only company.  The lights from the city, a constant glow on the horizon, obscured the shimmering heavens and left me to venture forth in darkness that barely softened at the edge of my sight.  I trusted my footing though and strode forward confidently.  It was a walk I had taken many times before.  Why would it be any different on the last day of the year?

I stepped into the cold morning, an icy breeze rolling off the ocean my only company.  It pricked at my skin and chilled my scalp as it passed through me.  We were two adventurers headed in opposite directions.  I picked up my pace to reach the comfort of my truck and the cold gusted against me, reminding me that hurrying isn’t always the right answer.  Perhaps that is an important lesson to remember as another year draws to a close?

I stepped into my truck and settled in for the long ride to work on dark streets and deserted freeways, jealous and jubilant at the same time.  I wished I could be home, wrapped in the warmth and comforts of my bed, dreaming of the lazy day ahead.  I was happy to have nothing but the darkness to share the road with.  No distracted drivers, no glaring headlights in my rear view mirror, and no mad scramble of cars scurrying to their predawn destinations.  Was it worth it, then, to be up and out on the final day of the year just for that?

I stepped into work, alone except for the glowing monitors, another constant of my world, and marveled at the cacophony of silence reigning supreme.  Soon enough the quiet would be shattered as the few workers who shared my fate straggled into their desks and began the flurry of clicking and yammering that marked their roles, but for those first few minutes the silence and I enjoyed having the place to ourselves.  Why not spend a few minutes in silent reverie, reflecting on the year that was, and the year that could be, the year that will be?

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

Wherever you are, I hope you have a few minutes of peaceful reflection today to marvel at all that was accomplished last year, and to ponder all that might be accomplished in the coming year.

light and sound

The siren reaches my ears in a crescendo of wails,
Long before the light splashes against the walls in red and blue pales,
Another possible early morning jolt from sleep,
Through the darkness to check on my wife and child I creep,
Then kiss them gently on their foreheads,
Mother and son curled up together and tucked into the bed,
Into the pre-dawn I slip away,
Without disturbing their slumber, I head out to start my day.

An occasional hint of color bounces off the homes and store fronts,
I’m thankful we’re receding from the brunt,
The high-pitch scream and blinding glare of the passing responder,
On their speedy quest they never wander,
Off to help those in need, those who morning’s luck did lack,
The light and sound fade into the black,
I step into my truck and selfishly hope my journey won’t be delayed,
Pre-coffee, my nerves are already frayed.

Catching hold, I set simple thoughts aside,
I smile in the knowledge that my loved ones are still safely inside,
My heart goes to those who needed aid,
I hope the bus to their sides and the services are quickly conveyed,
I fire the ignition and flick on the lights,
They barely cut through the strangling grip of night’s might,
Again selfishly, to me my thoughts return,
To be back inside, cuddled in bed with my family, I urgently yearn.

Ambulance lights flashing in the darkness

the alarm

The day was dreary, gloomy and overcast,
The darkness pulled my thoughts to the past,
Where life’s joys and triumphs had happened all too fast,
And my memories were faded, because nothing ever lasts.

…..

The alarm clock droned in my ear.

Sometimes it was piercing, sometimes I couldn’t hear it at all, and sometimes I was in a dreamy state where I knew it was going off and I should turn it off but it was mellow, muted, and so I felt no great sense of urgency to deal with it.  It was one of those mornings.

Still it droned on.

I cracked open my eyes, a sliver, to see how much light was pouring through the gaps in the blinds and was pleasantly surprised that I could open them without daylight frying my retinas and the sharp pain that always accompanied that.  Sadly, that wasn’t really a good thing as it meant the morning was once again overcast.

I hadn’t seen the sun in several days and it was starting to effect me.  I didn’t have seasonal affective disorder, but I had found that the longer I went without seeing the sun the lousier I felt, the more despondent I became.  The harder it was to talk myself out of bed and head to the job I dreaded.

The alarm continued to beep away.  I was aware of it but still felt no urge to silence it.

I turned my head away from the blinds and opened my eyes fully to stare up at the ceiling.  I knew I needed to get up and get started with my day, it was going to be another busy one, but I didn’t yet have enough control over my body to make it do my bidding.  My mind knew what it should do, my body had the capacity to follow those instructions, but they weren’t yet communicating as they normally would.

The overhead ceiling fan stood motionless.  The May grey and June gloom hadn’t given way to the hot summer nights and the fan hadn’t yet been called into action.  The room around me lightened as the sun, though its influence was filtered by the clouds and marine layer, rose higher into the sky.  Time was ticking away faster than I was aware of.

The alarm droned on.

My thoughts, as my mind and body continued to wake up and try to interact properly, fled to the past, when I wouldn’t have had to worry about getting up at a certain time, when I didn’t have a job, and responsibilities, and the pressure of having people depend on me.  I often fantasized about the freedom of youth.  I glorified it.  I romanticized it.  I held it in high regard as the penultimate experience of my life: my days were filled with only the activities I wanted them to be filled with.

Games, shenanigans, adventures all ruled the day.  I had the time and energy to explore when and where I wanted.  I could sleep away the mornings and the afternoons if I felt like it.  I could stay awake long into the night and watch the movies I wasn’t supposed to… or, that I learned later, weren’t all that great anyway and shouldn’t have wasted my time with.  But, that was the point – I had the ability to waste time without repercussions.  Isn’t that one of the often neglected but finest definitions of freedom?

But those days were only the penultimate experience of life.  Fully awake, fully in control again, I smiled.  Sure, I had to get up and go to a job I didn’t enjoy.  Sure, I had responsibilities and pressure and stress and hours of my life I wasn’t the “owner” of anymore.  Sure, I rarely found time do to the things that used to define who I was.

Having those responsibilities, though, afforded me the opportunities to grow into the man I became, to marry the wonderful woman who agreed to share her life with me, to adopt the two cats who always make me smile, and to have the family I had always wanted and constantly brought me unparalleled joy.

I turned the alarm off and got out of bed.

The alarm meant that I had to return to being a responsible adult, but there was also a silver lining to it.  It meant that the sooner I could get my work for the day done, the sooner I could be home again and spend time with my loved ones.

…..

The day was overcast, gloomy and dreary,
But the darkness was there to help me see,
Life always happens exactly as it is meant to be,
And the joys of today shine through it all brilliantly.

………………………………………………………………………

Rara has prompted me again:

for the promptless, forthepromptless, prompts for the promptless

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

“Silver Lining” is a prospect of hope or comfort in a gloomy situation.  [1870-75; from the proverb “Every cloud has a silver lining”] *

* Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.