Friday, July 10, 2015

Finding Light

Finding Light

The house lights dim. The heavy velvet curtains roll away from the centre, and the spotlights dance furtively around the stage until each of them is positioned on you.

The rows of seats stretch out before you, most of them empty, but in the nearest rows, you can still see some familiar faces turned expectantly toward you. This is it. This is your moment.

Sure you feel alone. Sure you can barely hear above the absolute silence. And when, someone — your brother or sister, your mother or father — someone begins to applaud politely, it only seems worse, because the applause that ripples through the auditorium isn't a resounding acknowledgement of your life. No, quite the opposite. The clapping patter of a few hands seems more like a question mark, more like something hesitant and uncertain, more like the sound of a final judgement. Except it's not final, not yet. Underneath the dying applause, there is some kind of expectation. And in that moment, you realise that you have no idea what it is they expect.

You begin by saying, "You ..." but quickly revert to offering, "I ..."

Then, nothing.

A tiny muscle in your forehead twitches with a frenzy. You reach up to find it, to soothe it, but your entire face seems unfamiliar to your hand. Your frightened fingers trace a lifetime of memories that have creased your soft skin over so many years of failure, and you wonder, "Is that what they see? Is that what everyone I've loved and supported sees in the end? Just the sad times. Just the times I fell down, the times I was crushed down, the times I couldn't stand under the weight of my pain, their pain, the pain of a world gone mad?"

The lights grow hot, and a murmur wanders up from the audience. You recognise the sound. It has followed you all your life, that unrelenting "What are you going to do now?" — a refrain that has followed you through life since the first day you heard it. The crowded impatience of smoldering faces ignites like spontaneous combustion and flames into anger. And even worse, somewhere, in a back row perhaps, someone snickers.

And then you do it ...

... and you wait ...



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