I have no idea how I got here. I didn’t want any of this. I didn’t ask to be here or to go through this. You hear a lot of stories about making a deal with the devil where someone sells their soul for one big break. They do it for power or fame or riches. Whatever it is it’s always something vain. But it never actually happens this way. There is no devil and we don’t even get the choice. The very first and probably biggest deal we make is for the very life we get and let me tell you it’s a pretty shitty deal. And if you are not careful like you go down a dangerous path just like I did. And you keep making more and more deals. Little compromises that you didn’t even notice. And by the end, you end up in the same place I am.
I can still remember that moment when this started. That first horrible deal. I was in a little white room with a small table and two chairs. It was essentially a brighter version of an interrogation room. A man in a white suit with a briefcase walks in. He sits down and opens the briefcase and takes out a sheet of papers and shoves it in front of me. “Sign here please,” he says. I ask what I am signing. “Sign here please” he repeats. Well, I am not one of those idiots that just signs anything without reading it. “YOU ARE HEREBY ENTITLED TO AN UNDISCLOSED AMOUNT OF TIME TO BE SPENT ON EARTH. FULL PAYMENT (1 SOUL) WILL BE COLLECTED AT THE END OF USE.” it says. It’s just that one line at the top and a place to sign on the bottom. The rest of the paper was blank. Well, what the fuck does that mean? I shove it back. “Please sign to show that you accept this gift,” the man says. I don’t want it. What am I even supposed to do with this? Does this time on earth come with a set of instructions on how I am supposed to use it? What if that time is not what I expected? Well, I decided I wasn’t taking it. He puts the paper back in front of me and I tear it up. “That’s an interesting way to sign a contract,” he says. What the hell? I didn’t sign anything? And just like that, I am thrown into the world.
At first, I am oblivious to everything. I am just trying to figure my way around this place. The closest thing I have to a set of instructions is the parents I was given. Bless them for trying but they are just as clueless as I am about how this whole thing called life works. They kind of go along with the rules of the game that have been set up by everyone else with no idea why they do it. They pass on to me the same advice they got from their parents and whatever things the TV and newspaper tell them they should say. They try to get rid of what they call my bad habits and make sure I am on what they think is the right path. And just like that, they have me playing their game. I follow the rules they give me. I go to school to do my chores and help my parents. I don’t interact much with the other kids. Sadly this limited time I was given is not enough to do everything. So I have to make compromises. Sure I don’t talk much and I don’t get to have much fun but my parents are very supportive when it comes to learning. And I am desperate to try to figure out with this time that was given to me. I pour through books learning everything I can as the world around me goes by. It makes my parents happy and it gets me what I want. And just like that, I am making more deals. I take some of the time I was given and invest it in learning and going to school. I use it to become the good son. But little do I realize what I must be losing out on.
Time passes and I get older. There is no way to know how much time I have left. I am pretty ignorant of the fact and I keep going as if I will never run out. I continue on my mission to figure out what this place is about and what I am supposed to do with what I was given. Other things in this place begin to catch my attention. I also find out that it’s not that easy in this place and I am going to need money. Yet another thing that makes no sense in this place. I have to get these pieces of paper which people give an arbitrary value so I can exchange it for other things I need. Well if I want to keep up my research I will need some. So I get a job which requires more of my time. This means even less time for books and even less time for other people. But it’s what everyone does to get by so I commit to it. Little did I know what I was getting myself in too.
It became like a drug to me. I wanted more and more of this money and exchange I gave more and more of my time. My pockets were pretty full for someone who had only been here for the time I had. And I still managed to be the good son while trying to find out the answers to my questions about this place. I was admired for what I did. Apparently, I was a rare specimen. There was a certain rush to it at the beginning. It seemed that maybe I had figured things out. I had found my routine. Eat, work, sleep, and repeat. It was simple and efficient. I wasn’t only hooked on the money. I was hooked on the work and on the routine. If I kept this up then eventually I would get through this and those damn questions wouldn’t even matter anymore.
But just like any other addict, I had a crash. Suddenly nothing mattered. The routine wasn’t cutting it. The money and possessions weren’t enough. And no matter how hard I tried to get lost in my work it wasn’t enough. The question came back to me. What was I supposed to do with it all? I saw everyone else like cows go about their lives following the same routine I had. They went through life not caring what they did with what they had been given. Granted if it’s the best way they can find to do what they want with their time then who am I to judge? And yet I couldn’t accept that this was all there was. I wasn’t going to exchange my time for the comfort that this routine brought. These people might as well already be dead. They had essentially given up everything already.
There had to be something better and I was going to find out what I was supposed to do with this time that was given. So I dove back into my books and studies. I spent days and nights pouring over the pages. I obsessed over the most insignificant line. It was as if I was searching for gold in the pages and the smallest nugget brought out great excitement. Some of the books led to dead ends. Others led me deeper down the hole. Slowly I kept going deeper and deeper but I found nothing. I became lost in my search. I used all my time for this and meanwhile, the world around me kept spinning. I gave it all up in search of an answer.
And now here I am. I am still desperately searching for even the slightest glimpse of an answer but I haven’t gotten any closer than where I was at the beginning. I see the same man who was there at the beginning. The white suit is unmistakable. He is here to collect payment for that loan. He’s probably not going to be too happy when he sees what I did with it. How I made bad investments. Whether it was being stupid and trying to find an answer on how I was supposed to use it or spending time ignoring everything and blocking it all out. Or making sacrifices for the wrong reasons. I start to think of all the things I missed out on. The friends and the adventures I could have gone on and how they maybe could have taught me so much more about what I should be doing. I look back and think of how I spent so much time searching rather than doing anything. “It’s time to pay up”, the man says. I got nothing to give him. I am all out. And now he gets my soul. I’ve lost it all for something I never asked for and never wanted. And those terms are bullshit. Where was my lawyer when I needed him to get me out of that contract? He puts the sheet of paper from the beginning in front of me. But now there is more writing. Every word is very familiar and brings back memories. As I get ready to get carried away the man says, “You were never going to find the answer in those books. It was up to figure out your own rules for the contract and to do what you wanted. You had it inside the whole time. Too bad you never looked there. Time to go”