Outside the sky is blue and covered in flecks of white dots that double as clouds. Cumulus nimbus is what my junior high school teacher called them, at least I think that is what he said. Can’t say that I remember all that well, or maybe the problem is that I remember far too well. I remember the days when I fit in and felt like a part of society.
I know, it sounds screwy. If you know me you’d never have a clue that I am a lonely man. You wouldn’t guess that my days feel like they have no meaning at all. I am a good actor. That smile I paste across my face and the silly banter are all part of my disguise. A shield that I use to keep people from seeing that the man is nothing more than shell of a person.
I know, you’re thinking that it sounds tired, a cliche and somewhat pathetic to say these things. It is hard for me to write them and even harder for me to accept that the boy who showed so much promise grew into the man who has yet to fulfill one of his dreams. Not one single dream, not one.
My friend Mike says that the reason that I haven’t managed to fulfill one single dream is that they aren’t ordinary dreams. They aren’t the type of thing that you can just do. He says that I should take it easy on myself because dream fulfillment doesn’t take place over night. He says that it is better this way because if I fly too close to the sun than I’ll really earn the name Icarus.
I tell him that I need to do better, that I can’t wait for Godot to show up and help me. He just laughs and tells me that I am being too hard on myself and that if I would just ease up I’d be happier.
Maybe he is right.
The thing is that when I look around all I see are people who look happier than me. All around me are couples holding hands, looking dreamily into each other’s eyes. All around me are people who walk confidently into wherever it is they are going. Surely they don’t feel like I do. They couldn’t possibly exude that much confidence without feeling it.
Mike says that I am crazy. Mike says that some of those people are hiding behind their smiles, just like I do. I tell Mike that I feel like one of those sneetches that didn’t get the star. I feel like the kid who missed hearing the teacher’s instructions. Everyone else knows how to play the game of life and I don’t.
Every now and then Mike makes sense to me so I try to do as he says. I take his words to heart and try to apply them. I look around my office and imagine that they are all scared and lonely too. It works for a while and then I start to get nervous.
I start wondering if maybe Mike isn’t confused. I start thinking that maybe Mike isn’t so smart and that maybe he is the one that needs to be set straight. And every now and then I find myself in a heated argument with Mike because sometimes he needs to be confronted about these things. I may feel like I am lost. I may feel like I am the only one who doesn’t get it, but even I know a thing or two.
I may hide behind my smile, but it doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned something. And then in the middle of my righteous indignation I remember that Mike really isn’t such a good role model. He really doesn’t know any more than I do.
And most importantly I remember that the reason I have never introduced my mother to Mike is because if she saw me introduce her to the guy in the mirror she’d think that I was making a joke and she might laugh. And if she laughed that would hurt Mike’s feelings. He might not know so much, but he is still a person and you shouldn’t intentionally hurt a person’s feelings.