Have you ever had one of those days where your life seemed so insignificant that you wondered, what is the point? When you stop noticing the colour in the world or could be completely surrounded by people only to feel that you’re alone. I have, and I’m guessing many people do at some point in their life, some move on, others find ways to fill that void with unimportant things and some people overcome it in ways that are so significant that it can help change the lives of those around them. Just like someone changed my life for the better.
It started with a typical Monday, I took the long subway ride to work immersed myself in music coming through my headphones to drown out the sound of the outside world as its heaviness sat with me. I looked at the people around, grim expressions, tiredness, and the lack of colour or vibrancy. Once off the subway, I grabbed a bagel and coffee from an outdoor vendor and made my way to the publishing house where I worked as an assistant and began my day.
My work wasn’t anything special or exciting, but it allowed me to read books to imagine worlds full of colour and adventure to help fill my void. It was my little thing to help me get through the day, the ultimate form of escapism. I understood the characters in the books better than most people I worked with, I’d laugh and cry with those characters and fall in love with them, and for a little while, I’d feel less alone, but every story eventually comes to an end and you move on, find more stories and more books.
I finished work early that day and went to carry on my routine of the subway home and then a night glued to another book but something halted me, part of me couldn’t bear to spend another night alone in my tiny apartment. Despite all the books I had read and all the adventures I have imagined, at that moment I had never felt more alone, empty. Tiredness that seemed to yearn for peace struck so deep that I couldn’t move. I felt frozen on the spot, it felt like I could scream, and non of the passerby would hear me, I had never felt more disconnected. I wanted to cry, to run, to scream, to hit something all at once and it felt overwhelming. I knew at that moment that no amount of books could give vibrancy to that dullness. And I started to run.
I didn’t care where I went or if people thought I was crazy, I didn’t care for the laughter or the dramas of the city life around me, I just needed to run and that’s what I did, I ran for what felt like an eternity until my breathing felt like raw shards of glass and my legs could no longer carry me. It led me just outside the city to a small lake surrounded by trees where very few visited. I wandered for a while around the lake until I spotted a small bench surrounded by stones and flowers.
I slumped down on the bench and didn’t think, didn’t move, just sat there in a state of complete emptiness. It may have been minutes or hours of time that may have stopped completely, I didn’t know at that point, I had forgotten who I was and despair felt like my new companion. After a while, I started to notice how cold I was, not just inside, but the sun was slowly departing for the day and I had been in an unmovable position for quite a while. I began looking around, the lake had peace to it and a stillness that I hadn’t noticed before, the scent of the flowers next to me suddenly managed to get through the wall of despair that seemed to have surrounded me. As I looked at the flowers I noticed something stuck between the crevice of the rocks, a plastic bag that seemed to contain something. Without thinking, I got up and yanked it out. It contained a little black book. I opened the booked and it flipped through the pages, there were little artistic drawings and it appeared to be a diary. There was a piece of paper tucked in the book that said:
“If you find this book then you have come into something special. A memoir of such in the form of drawings and words to express the ups and downs I have felt during my time in the world”.
“I sat in this exact spot and wrote as I wept when the pain of the world became too much. You see I’m someone who navigated the world invisible to many, I’m charming and elegant and had a love for all. I sat and observed, I sat and listened and I laughed and I cried so much deeper than many could even fathom. I was a simple thing, who took moments to simply feel the cruel bite of the winter frost, to feel the wind rustle through my hair, to feel the sun run kisses up my skin. I enjoyed them all and they each in turn helped me smile and light up a joy in me that warmed my very being.
If you found this book, then know it was by no accident, the very spot you’re sat in is one that I often favorited when peace was required. I’d sit, listen to the birds, watch the clouds roll by, but most importantly, see the sun glint off the water in the most dazzlingly of light shows, and in that moment, nothing else mattered. The problems would just disappear, the noise, the pain- all gone in just a moment. In this book you will find a gift, the gift will hopefully ease some of your troubles and if you have no requirement for the gift, please find someone that does- all I ask is that you return to this spot at first light and meet a very important artist of mine. They will greet you with open arms and give you a warmth you have never felt before.”
An endearing stranger
As I scanned through the book, I came across a cheque for £20,000, a sticky note on the cheque requested that I add my name in the blank recipient box. I was shocked and could barely believe it, I went back and forth wondering whether it was the right thing to do until the sun went down and I could no longer feel my hands. I began walking to the subway with the book tucked under my arm in complete silence. I didn’t know what to think or if it was even real, it would certainly help my situation.
Later that night, I sat in bed trying to fathom what had happened during the day, it felt like I had been in such different emotional states that I didn’t know where to begin deciphering. I still felt empty and tired that I knew sleep couldn’t cure. But I knew I’d return to the lake the next day.
The following day, back at the lake, there was no sign of anyone, the morning frost left a chill in the air and the way the mist came from the water gave it an airy feel. I could see no person or no artist as I sat in that same spot on the bench looking out over the water. I waited until the first light- becoming slightly more impatient and was wondering if I had been set up, but as the first light approached, something happened- the world came alive. From the moment the light touched the water, there were so many colors and it became clear what the artist was, for this lake, the sun, the frost, the reflection of the trees, the sky, the feel of the cold, the smell of morning zap, were all part of an orchestra supporting a dancer of light and I was the audience in a captivating show that infiltrated every one of my senses to deliver me a moment of pure bliss. The sun cast downlight which turned into a rainbow of color, an iridescent orgasm to the eyes. I looked and couldn’t think, I was frozen in that spot just watching, listening, and breathing. The sounds of my breath and heartbeat were loud in the silence and they became the backing tune to nature’s art. I felt tears slide down my face, and despite the morning chill, I suddenly felt warmth radiate through me like the sun had wrapped me in a warm embrace and shined through every issue I have ever had. I had never felt more at peace, more connected like in this moment, I was exactly where I was supposed to be.
I realized at that moment that each moment is unique and unlike any others, our life is made up of many moments, many are insignificant, some stay with us and some aren’t as good, but they’re all unique non less and at this moment I felt like I could finally breathe again.