I walked up to him and said, ‘Hello,’ in a grave tone.
‘Hello’, he said, his voice drowning everything around us. There was some kind of force in it – a real force that made your legs shake and tremble and your stomach gurgle for no reason.
‘So you’ve summoned me here’, I said. ‘Why is that?’
I felt my voice diluting and my throat being crippled as if I was talking while being strangled by someone.
‘Yes, it’s true,’ he said. ‘I’ve summoned you here to ask you where you stand on the matter of faith.’
‘I’m not sure I understand.’
‘I’m asking you if you believe in me yet? Have I done enough in your life to convince you of my power and existence?’
I waited for the roar and thunder of his mighty voice to dim down. ‘Listen old man,’ I said with a smirk on my face, ‘the white hair on your skull appears to have become too thick for you to think straight. What makes you think you’ve done anything to persuade me you’re really a deity? To me you’re still a made-up figment of human imagination that appears to us occasionally to entertain us and take our minds off real problems.’
‘Well,’ he chuckled mockingly, ‘there’s no need for banter. We can simply look at the facts. What about all those times you’ve walked around like a drunken bum, roaming streets aimlessly and drinking till your gut almost exploded just because you couldn’t write a damn word?’
‘Are you saying you prevented my gut from exploding?’
‘I’m saying I’m the one that made sure you’d find your way back home after all these nights where you were lost. And what about all the times you struggled with your writing? I also made sure you’d have some time on your own to tame your demons and fulfill that desire of yours.’
‘Well,’ I said with a mix of anger and disgust, ‘what about the times I got drunk in the first place? What about the times I quit college or got in bar fights? What about the times I drank to mourn the loss of women I was going to travel around the world with and spend the rest of my life with? What about the countless times my writing got rejected? Where were your then? On holidays on a cruise ship I suppose?’
‘It doesn’t work like that; there are things I’ve placed in your hands and you have the ability to control and alter them.’
‘So you’ve given me control over some things and taken control over others. Well is there some sort of list you can provide me with? Because that would be really helpful the next time I get myself in trouble. I’d at least know what predicament I’m in and if it’s worth putting the effort to get myself out of. How foolish do you think I am?’
‘Foolish enough to be blinded from a truth staring you in the face.’
‘You don’t scare me, old man. You don’t even intimidate me. You can’t get to me, I’ve already shut you out of my system a long time ago.’
‘That doesn’t prevent you from finding your way back to me.’
‘You want to brawl, old man? Give me a few minutes to grab a couple of beers and then I’ll kick your ass. I’ve already had my share of street fights; I’ve built my experience and my survival skills are high up. Let’s go, old man!’
‘There’s no need for that,’ he said in a calm and subdued tone. ‘I can see you’re already fighting a much bigger battle with yourself. A battle you’ve been stuck fighting for a while now but whose end is very hard to foresee. There are things in you that make you doubt who or what you are – there are factors that make you uncertain and full of doubt toward your true self. You need to banish these things before you can start to see clearly.’
‘Things like what?’
‘Things like purpose. Things like passion. Things like love. The things that play a big part in our lives and are heavily involved in it end up controlling us and, if we’re not careful enough in managing them, swallowing us. You are engulfed by darkness; I can sense it from where you’re standing. You need to step out of the shadows to be able to witness the light.’
‘You’re drunk,’ I answered him.
‘No, I’m afraid you’re the one who’s drunk: drunk on bad habits, on laziness, on depression, on writing and bad hangovers and one-night-stands with cheap women. These things are holding you back from finding the things that truly matter to you, like finding your writing voice or chasing after true love or accomplishing something remarkable. Until you sort your darkness and learn to seal it away in a box, every night will be like one of those lost nights where you walk drunkenly and aimlessly in the streets like a madman.’
‘That’s all I have for you at this time. I’ve got another appointment with a man who claims he’s the reincarnation of Nietzsche now. You may go.’
I turned my back and headed for the whiteness behind me.
‘Until we meet again,’ his voice echoed behind me.
‘I wouldn’t count on it,’ I muttered.
As I made my way out I was unsure where to go. I wanted to head to a bar and drink, drink, drink my way out of this and drown that last conversation in sweet poisonous alcohol and forget about it. But I started seeing white flashes in front of me. White flashes that came and went like bangs in front of my eyes. I traversed through a tunnel that was also white. Where it led was beyond me. But after a few minutes, I could feel my feet again. I could feel them touching the hard ground. I could walk normally. Soon after my vision was reset to normal. I had full ownership of my bodily functions again. The setting around me had returned to normal as well. The busy city, the narrow streets packed with people and the noisy traffic – I was back where I belonged.
I thought about getting a drink. I thought about going to a whorehouse. I thought about burning all the things I wrote.
I thought about a lot of other things, like fights in the back alley with men who were twice or three times my size. Then I thought about music, about classical symphonies and piano keys.
After that my mind went blank again. Something in me decided it was perhaps best not to drink at this time. Perhaps it was best to go home and sit and think for a while. And maybe while I’m at it, write a few lines. Or a lot of lines. Or a simple singular line.
I was immediately convinced by that last thought and followed through with it. On my way home I looked at the heavens. The sky was a clear blue with no clouds. But it seemed angry and reproachful at me. Maybe the old man was up to one of his old tricks again.
Either way, I still couldn’t see it.