by Kevin Mercurio
I write this after some time of reflection. I am alone at my dining room table, gazing in front of me at a large mirror. I notice I am frowning and feeling inferior, eyebrows crumpled in confusion. For a brief moment, nostalgia arouses memories of halcyon years.
Oh. Where did all the time go?
I have been thinking, and I believe I have not been the man I had perceived myself to be. I look in reticence into myself, and acknowledge the multitude of mistakes I achieved. What is worrisome is that I cannot determine whether my state of mind in folly justifies regretful actions. Does a thief who covets out of greed find peace by superseding materialism with idealism?
I woke up at dawn and began my morning routine. I rose from the bed, carelessly hurling the blankets and exposing my wife to the chilly early air. Had I not appreciated that my wife deserved the comfort of a good night’s rest, perhaps she would have been in a better mood today.
I kick the family cat from my side who greeted me at the bedroom door, in order to make myself breakfast. I cursed as the coffee machine slowly drip drip dripped my morning medication. I howled at the children for not waking up in time for school. Had I not recognized that my son and daughter stayed up the previous night to finish their end of the year projects, perhaps I could have had breakfast ready for them when they woke.
I continued this onslaught on my journey to work. I demanded that the taxi driver get me to my building on time. I chastised the young barista inside the cafe for mishearing my order. I slipped on the marble floor into the elevator and glared at the custodian for being so inconsiderate. As I entered my office, my secretary welcomed me and said, “Good morning sir! How are you?”. Without turning my head I replied, “Good” and shut the door. Had I not been more grateful for the work my secretary accomplished, perhaps she would not criticize my reputation as a supervisor.
To my superiors, I act different. I put on a front to be presented as significant. I force out smiles to be the one that everyone admires. I attend team meetings listening for keywords that I repeat, feigning ignorance to assume interest. When the meeting concludes, I was surprised by the invitation to remain in the room. It was here that my boss tells me she has some sad news. Had I not genuinely collaborated with my colleagues, perhaps I would have been a valued team player in my career.
Outside the building, I check my phone. I have several missed calls from my mother’s retirement home. The voicemails indicate that she was taken to hospital a few hours before. She underwent cardiac arrest on her trip to the store. “Oh Lord! Why me?” I cried, with one last voicemail to go from the hospital itself. Had I not demonstrated my love to the woman that raised me, perhaps it would have inspired a desire within her to live healthier.
No. Where did all the time go?
Ashamed, I detour my car to the neighbourhood bar. “Some beer and a scotch on the rocks,” I demanded. How long should I remain here, I asked myself. I don’t know, I answered. How does this help, I questioned further. I’m not sure, I replied. Perhaps some temporary relief can solve my problems, I thought. Are you sure, I cautioned. “Another one please,” I yelled.
There was a loud bang. I stepped out of the car and brushed the glass from my clothes. I rang the bell to my own house, drunk as a skunk. When I laughed and turned the knob, I was surprised by the lack of resistance from the unlocked door. It’s quiet and desolate. When I walk into the kitchen, I was even more surprised that there was no food for dinner prepared, just a note on the dining room table. It was here that my wife tells me she has some sad news. I look up, gazing in front of me at the large mirror. I notice that I am smiling and feeling superior, nostrils flared in amusement.
So, where did all the time go?
And then I wondered, how did I get here? A few drinks and some beer? No, how did I get here?
There was so much good in my life, and my failure to recognize what was secretly invigorating my desire to wake up every morning has come to a bitter end. I have always visualized myself as one of the greats, who can encounter Inferno and mould it into Paradiso. Yet, as I gaze at myself in the large mirror, I see that I am as human as everyone else. How interesting is it that a man discovers life’s greatest lessons at the brink of madness?
I grabbed a sheet of paper and began writing. “I write this after some time of reflection. I am alone at my dining room table, gazing in front of me at a large mirror…”
“The final result of too much routine is death in life.”
– Gertrude Atherton