You feel empty, nothing.
And, then, it happens. You know the feeling: the tiniest glimmer of light, the almost unnoticeable coming together of all your experiences, desires, wants, needs, ambitions, prayers, hopes. It feels good. It gives comfort. It brings to your lips your first ever pure smile – pure because it is yours alone, not borne of societal diktats or peer pressure or the enslaving need to please anyone. It enlivens you. It gives you the reason to wake up, to go to sleep, to twirl through the toughest day and the most boring of chores. It opens up the windows, throws the curtains clear – and in rushes the freshest air for your, only your, supreme pleasure.
You feel human. Humane. Purposeful.
Gradually, it grows. Not on its own, of course – as nothing does in this world. It grows because, in your gratitude and your selfishness, you take care of it. As it gives you life, so do you give it space and time to breathe and expand and turn into something more. You enrich it with your ceaseless toil, you caress it with your smile hidden lovingly within your breast, you kiss it with your ever-so-often glance at the open sky. You hold its hand, help it as it staggers to its own feet. You teach it to walk.
You feel human. Humane.
In time, it starts to talk. You hear the first frothy child-like syllables in your brain, like a faint pleasant buzz. Your heart swells with pride as you see it listen to and enrapture your surroundings, your company, your friends and family. And, then, one day, you find its words flow through your pen to the diary you started out on a whim. It surprises you at first – to see this beautiful thing that was thus far deep within now there in the open. It hurts a bit, like a betrayal. But you forgive it, as the parent forgives the adolescent gone astray – sure in the knowledge of eventual return. Soon, as its words begin to take over your vocal cords and sprinkle your conversation with its enthusiastic bursts of emotion, you start to take delight in giving in.
You feel human.
You know the feeling: the passionate wanton embrace oblivious to the world, the powerful feeling of invincibility, the effervescent rapture of clinking glasses and mellifluous symphony, the heady giddiness of being right at the edge, there, within touching distance. You reach out, eyes closed, like a lover sure of her partner’s touch.
But, in a moment, it is as if everything has changed.
There is no rush of fresh air, no light, no frothy bubbly enthusiasm bursting for the sun. There is nothing. You grope, you scream, you cry. You seek to express, but suddenly realize that you no longer have words to call your own – it has used and shaped your vocabulary for itself. You cannot write, for the paper is too used to its expressions, not yours. You cannot breathe, cannot reach for help – it has moulded your environs and your friends in its own shape and now, that it has gone, they have gone with it.
* * *
You’re angry. Sad. Desperate. You tear away at your hair, and chain-smoke, and cry deep heaving sighs in your den. You pray for its return, for a glimmer, a vision, the merest jingle of its twinkling feet.
Is the dream really dead? Indeed, when does a dream actually die? Is it when it can no longer be achieved or when it has been realized? Wait a minute, you pause to reflect: aren’t both the same? Does it matter, then, whether the dream “came true” or not?
Which would you rather have? Monalisa as an incomplete vision of what can be, or as a barricaded glass-encapsulated restored perfect canvas in a reinforced concrete box of an urban jungle? Schubert’s unfinished eighth symphony or Beethoven’s ninth? Unrequited love or sixty years of a loving marriage? Winning a World Cup or pursuing it?
Why did the dream have to die? Did you do all you could? Could you have done more? Did you not give everything of yourself to it? Did you take it for granted? Did you lose yourself so much that it took you for granted and remained interested no more?
What happens to dreams when they die? Are they burnt, buried, fed to birds of prey, or cannibalized? Do they disappear forever, or enjoy an afterlife? Or, do they recycle like timeless souls to other minds and hearts? Or, indeed, do they transform into ghostly regret and fiery nightmares and return to haunt us?
Did it ever care for you as you cared for it? Did it love you as you loved it? Did it smile at your joyous evolution as you celebrated its growth? Or, was it merely using you, as a parasite does its host?
Questions, good questions all, but without answers! That’s the nature of this world, apparently, and of life: the most important questions never get answered (the cynic retorts: that’s the reason they are the most important questions, moron!).
* * *
After a point, it does not matter. You know the feeling: the willing yourself out of bed every morning, the millennia taken to brush and bathe, the stranger’s haunting look in the mirror, the disorderly shuffling on the pavement, the endless flavorless cups of coffee.
You feel empty, nothing.
You are yourself again.
* * * * *