Beneath the City Lights

December 6, 2007
He wakes up this morning on the other side of life. Where illusion is the truth, and the land is his state of mind. Here he is nothing but a small man, but he knows he could be something much greater. Here, he is just another number, broken in the heart of the city. The world runs quickly around his, and never gives him a chance to catch up. His heart beats to the same pace as the passing traffic.

He keeps rushing down the street, fighting not to be reminded by the chances he must beat. They are two people crossing the same space, but are a world apart.

“Hey mister, can you spare a dime?” The evening falls on another day, another day of being an outcast. He lives the life that nobody cares for, he is not relevant, nor in anyone’s mind. He has no time for family gatherings, because there is no family. So he slowly creeps back to his street. It’s his street, his corner, his traffic light, and his story. Back to a solid brick wall, he looks up at the dull stars shining through the smog above and contemplates life.

Whispering to himself he counts the ways he will be forgotten, “I have done nothing to show for, nothing to be remembered by, have nothing to look forward to, and nobody to share my life with.” His voice is lost in the sound of distant tire screeches and the wail of an ambulance. So he rests his head against the cold stone and sleeps another night on the streets alone. Another morning, another try at living.

“Hey mister, can you spare a dime?” The man checks his watch, and hurries past, clearly ignoring his question. Another effort ended with no luck. He has all the time in the world, just to be thankful to be alive, though being alive has its consequences. Before, he always had family to remind him of how lucky he was, now they were gone, lost in the flames that devoured his life. It was tragic how fire could be so destructive. He said nothing ever went the way he planned, and he was right. All the hope he had to ask for was in prayer, and he asked how he would create a path to the brighter side of life. He knew that by creating his own light and following it would show him the way. He closed his eyes. He concentrated on the power of the ocean, and the stillness of the land outside the city walls.

The brightness of the sky was once again darkening with the coming of the night. A man, troubled by the loneliness and awed by magic of creation. He remembered the moment he realized he was not who he thought he was, it was the moment he started to be the man he wanted to be. Until that single moment changed his entire life, a ripple of consciousness made him who he was today. It was funny how such a natural thing could be so unforgiving, so harsh, and harsh enough to ruin a life, even a family. He felt as if the movement of time was frozen by a capture of a camera. His world was tilted, and all he had to do was stay balanced, using his weight to push his own world into place.

“I must fight to stay balanced, on top, and in control,” he whispered, pacing down the busy sidewalk. He was traveling at the speed of light, in a place with no natural light. Everything around him artificial, made to imitate life.

He looked down the street somberly, a business man, a woman in heels, a small girl, and him. A flock of people following a blind shepherd, going somewhere and going back. He hid his hands in his moth-eaten coat pockets and sat on the cold concrete. He knew asking the business man anything would be useless. He cared too much about himself, and he figured he would probably scare the woman and child. It was funny how time could do that to a man. At one time he was very handsome, at one time, he was great. Now his face was covered by a graying beard, and memories were lost in the folds and wrinkles of his skin. He brushed dirt off his pants and exhaled deeply. In the city beneath the lights, the street lamps flicker in the rhythm of a dying heart.

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