Friday, April 1, 2011

The Usual

Ben was sitting at the dinner table, slowly consuming the lasagna his wife had made from a cardboard box in the freezer. It had been an ordinary day- he had woken up at seven, as usual, driven to the bakery, as usual. Traffic wasn't too bad, as usual, and his receptionist was wearing the usual grey skirt and jacket. Business had gone smoothly as usual, as well as the traffic home. And now, he was listening to his wife go on about her day- as usual. "I got that new synthetic butter at the store today- it's supposed to be better for you, and you know you could stand to lose a few pounds dear. And don't forget to put your suit in the laundry, I just got a fresh one all ironed out. Do you like the lasagna? It's a new brand." In fact he did not like the lasagna. But to say anything would be to ruin the usualness of everything, and he was not very fond of that idea. After dinner, they retired to the foyer,as usual, and watched the evening news, as usual. They then went to their bedroom, as usual, and read two very dry, boring novels- as usual. It was after the lights went out, and Ben was staring at the cieling, that it happened. It was as if something had taken the frame of his mind, and given it a great shake. All of a sudden he had an intense awareness. At first, he was only more aware of himself. He could feel every single inch of his body vibrating with life, he could hear the beat of his heart as loud as a drum, the breathes that he was taking as loud as the ocean. And then he began to feel other things- things he had not felt for a long time. First a flood of joy when he remembered all the good in his life- his first dog, when he got his car, when he graduated college, and when he got married. Then, a surge of sadness, when he remembered how his dog had died, when his degree lead to no job, and when his marriage began to fall apart. And finally, a tinge of fear- though of what, he could not say. Then he became aware of even more things. He could feel his wife so clearly- he could taste her hopes; how she wanted a child, how she wanted a bigger house, how she wanted all of Ben's love. He could also taste the bitterness of her disappointment. She was baren, stuck in this neighborhood with no friends, and try as she might, she knew Ben never loved her. He felt a singe of guilt. He began to feel the consciousness of all of his neighbors- he felt every hope of a promotion, or a proposal, or a new born, or a hundred other things. He felt the hurt of rejection, loss, and death. At this point tears began to stream down his face. he could not take this- he could not handle knowing all of this pain- it was too much! But his awareness kept growing. He could now sense whole counties of people, all hoping, all hurting. Except now he could see that they were trying to fix their hurts. But they were doing it all wrong. And as whole states of people swam into his mind, he saw what they were doing- they were going form house to house, looking for love in all the wrong places. They were drowning their hurts in alcohol, in drugs. They were phyically hurting themselves to make the real pain seem smaller. 'Stop!" Ben cried, "Can't you see you're making it worse!" But no one listened. And as whole nations cluttered his being, he began to scream, to wail- anything to tell them to stop hurting themselves. "There's got to be another way!" He cried, "Stop trying to do it yourselves!" He was in utter despair, now seeing the whole planet of humanity trying to heal their hurts by hurting themselves even more. "There's nothing I can do.... they won't listen." And as he said this, he became aware of another presence- not human, but even bigger. It was giant, massive, infinite in it's power. And the weight of it's heart for the poor confused people was more than Ben could handle. The incredible pressure being forced upon him was tearing him apart- such sadness, such love. It was crushing Ben- every thought and emotion in him was dwarfed, destroyed by this behemoth of love. And then Ben woke up.

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