Hit snooze. Roll over. Wake up. Stumble to the bathroom. Scarf a quick breakfast. Start the car. So goes your morning routine. Your muscle memory cranks your body into motion like an unchanging human conveyor belt. Traffic flares and horns blare. You try and ease your frustration with some music, but the radio is droning on about sales and cars and weight-loss programs.
You arrive at work, sit at your desk, fire up a machine and stare at it for 8 hours. You blink, stretch your legs for the occasional glass of water or snack. You might even exercise during your lunch break. But you coast, legs heavy, shuffling through the seconds as they turn to minutes, hours, days then weeks. You look up from your to-do list and it’s sticky spring. You change your clothes.
You’ve been drifting so long you don’t remember what it’s like to have your feet on the pedal. The meals, conversations and TV shows all blur into a hologram of a life. Far away it’s shiny and sharp. Up close it’s distorted and pixelated. You talk about the weather. You order dinner. You make your way single-file to the ATM, where you withdraw money for things to set next to other things you didn’t need. You smile at people and they smile at you—tight lipped and emotionless—as if exchanging a million words and nothing at all in one curt lip movement.
At home, you want to be better. You dream of hobbies and passions and interests outside of work. But you’re tired. You’re exhausted moving from tunnel to tunnel in this never-ending maze in an anthill. In a trance, you see sunlight beaming down on your face, warming your cheeks and flushing them red.
You order a new book on Amazon, promising yourself that you’ll read it. Staring at the young author’s face on the back cover you wonder what she sacrificed to have her face inked in black and white on this thing that will live forever. You wonder if she also just added socks to her online cart because they were on sale. You enter your credit card, click purchase and for a second you feel an iota of something.
The socks arrive and the shininess has already worn off. You put them on and they feel fine in your sneakers. You’re no more or less the person you were before. The book sits in your bedside table collecting dust. These days, it’s just easier to watch sitcom reruns and pretend your life is more like that.
You find yourself staring at inanimate objects, traveling to a time and place where you felt most alive. Your palms sweat, your neck tingles and for a moment you’re there, feeling. The sensation slips through your fingers and you’re back in it. In the place you don’t even realize you are.
You set your alarm and shut off the bedside light. Somewhere between the pages of that novel and your nightstand a young author stares out at the world, knowing a simple secret you’re not yet privy to.
She knows that her place isn’t defined by static moments, wedged between routine and repetition. She knows her now isn’t necessarily her it.