When you step off the path trod by billions you think: Never trust someone who daydreams of unicorns and those who define their desires in those who do.
Once inside, you witness those who take dreams to their extremes. They break your heart incessantly with their troubles, similar to watching a dear friend bottoming out at the bar. Averting your gaze while wandering through the labyrinth, sawdust on the ground, stepping through cringing crowing and the heart rending cries of the distorted mutations of dreamers transfixed, skewed by their nightmares, you wonder if this is truly Hell.
You want to say, stop, but you know that when you do they listen without hearing, cycling, while the rest of us—who know better—move forward, leaving them behind to express useless mental calisthenics with a desperate denial that leaves sadness within you until you let them go.
You watch them fail, hurtling themselves into the ground at your feet. Perchance to flee, you run to the exit, bursting into the light, and rediscover your path.
Eventually, calm returns, and you make your pace on to the next stop, relieved at your escape.
The last, compartmentalized, thought of them is that while life is oftentimes a carnival, the side show of these people has you pause in fascination; a cautionary tale for the wise, a warning to the naïve, and ultimately, a heartbreak for the epiphanized.
As you walk away, miles multiplying on the journey, you think: Do not live in a bubble. Life is not a tunnel where personal experience and consciousness is bound by the extent of your lantern light. Read what you disagree with, hear while listening, and speak clearly with precision, with clarity, and patiently wait for the response.
Look around you, and see. When you walk into a situation in search of closure, the gifts you come away with are the ones you needed to have.
As you consider the reality from which you have fled, you take away what was vitally important, with a sense of gratitude for the cruel suffering you witnessed, with a joy sprung from peace, and the dark smug satisfaction that you are wiser than these dreaming fools, particularly knowing the fate of a unicorn.
Mike Lee is an editor, photographer and reporter for a trade union newspaper in New York City. His fiction is published in Bending Genres, The Drabble, Ghost Parachute, Reservoir, The Opiate and others. Website: www.mleephotoart.com. He also blogs for the photography website Focus on the Story.