"What is your purpose? What occupies your thoughts? Tell me, what is it that drives you?"
This is a dream… I had no idea where I was, but there was an old man standing above me.
"I don't… I don't have a drive. I'm… All… Alone."
"So what is it that brought you here? If you're all alone… Shouldn't you just disappear? Like a forgotten memory…"
"I thought… I thought maybe that I could be someone. Some one important to another person. I wanted to be needed."
"You thought you could find that here? Of all places? The darkest corner of your mind? Your own personal hell? You seem to want to disappear. You seem to like the idea of fading away like a bad dream."
"So what if I do? I'm no good. I'm useless. A waste of space."
"As long as you believe that you're useless, you will be."
"Belief never changed a thing, old man. I mean… All it's ever done for me was lead me into disappointment."
"Tell me something… Do you know why people need something in their lives that drives them? Something that motivates them? Something or someone that pushes them until they're where they need to be?"
"I always thought that it was so that they wouldn't fade into darkness."
"It's so that when you're at your lowest, when you've hit rock bottom, you at least know which way is up. And it's so that you have a ledge to hang on to when you fall. It's so that, when you are at the top, you don't lose yourself. You need some philosophy, something that just pushes you. Because otherwise, you'll just lie there. And you'll fade away. You can still be important. It's never too late to do something about your life. No, it's never too late to do something. Figure it out, kid. You've got at least 60 years left on this planet, before whatever lies beyond life takes you in. What will you do with those 60 years? Will you try to make them more? Will you give them to someone? Will you spend them searching for something that justifies your existence? There is no such a thing as wasted time. Only time taken to learn a lesson. Don't be a slow learner, kid. They go out quickly."
"How am I supposed to find what drives me?"
"Find what you're good at. If you find out why you do what you do, you'll know. It'll come to you, kid."
I was lying there for a few more minutes before it came to me. "I do what I'm good at because I know I can do it."
"What about the things you can't do…? You fail because you don't think that it's possible for you to succeed? What drives you should give you strength and peace. You should find joy in something that challenges your reason to be. Because if your motivation is strong enough, you'll crush it."
"Failing scares me"
"Sometimes, kid, failing is not an option."
The old man walked away
I looked at the sky above, me, but there was only darkness. It was the start of my own mind swallowing me whole, drowning me in sadness. The silence hurt my ears. I couldn't recognise the sound of my own voice. Life was passing by… Time was leaving me behind. I figured I had two options… I could either lie there, and be swallowed, or get up and start running. If I was to be swallowed, would I ever be needed? Would I ever find out if I could succeed? Would it be alright if I gave in, right there and then… The darkness was all around me now. I should probably get up, I thought… It occurred to me that I knew I could get up… Out of curiosity, I tried it. I was up.
Could I outrun the darkness?
I watched the depression come towards me. All my sad memories dragged themselves forward, desperately trying to hold me back. I know… I understand. Failing scares me… But I should be more scared of what could happen if I don't try. I need to try my hardest. I need to run faster than I ever had. I need to live, and dream, and get out of my own hell. I need to stop digging my own grave.
I ran. Heartbreak and anger were like the hounds of hell, and fear became Hades. I was afraid. I was afraid of my own fear. I ran… The darkness wanted me back. It wanted to swallow me whole and leave nothing but an empty shell. I clung on to my own words, whispering them to myself as I ran… I need to stop digging my own grave… I need to stop digging my own grave… I WILL NOT DIG MY OWN GRAVE!
Suddenly there was nothing. I was surrounded by darkness but... A different sort of darkness. Peaceful. Soothing. Oblivion… A grave appeared next to me, but it was empty and poorly dug, as if a dog was burying a bone. I realised that I had been I there, only moments ago. I wanted to make it useful. Make it beautiful I didn't want an ugly grave there… Some seeds were nearby. I picked them up, and gently pressed them into the earth. I closed them with soil, and what was to be my grave was now my tree. What came out of my own hell was beauty. It was nature. It was inspiring. I realised that as long as I didn't let fear control my life, as long as I was confident enough to do things for myself, that tree would not die. That tree would grow, and one die, it would become a forest, and that forest would create the necessary resources for a city, and then an empire. From the simple act of finding out what I feared, I knew I had begun building an empire.
My empire would be glorious indeed.
I never figured out who the old man was, when my dream ended… Was he God? Was he my common sense? Was he me? I knew that I owed him, not for showing me what I needed to see, but making me realise it myself. I woke up, not a different person. I was unchanged. I was still scared. I knew I would fail countless times more. But now I had the strength to get back up myself. I had a branch to hold onto. I no longer had a grave marked for myself.
*I wrote this to motivate myself. It sort of stuck with me. It started out as a conversation between characters in limbo, but I sort of connected with one, and embodied him, really. Perhaps it will give birth to another empire within someone else, and all this won't be for naught.