The Story I Tell Myself

One day a man was out and about, minding his own business, tending to his own affairs. when life showed up in a foul mood, with obviously ill intentions. The man ducked into the nearest doorway, hoping to lay low until life passed by and took its wrath out on some other unfortunate soul. To his horror, instead of passing by, life pulled open the door and started bearing down on the man.

Quickly, the man retreated further into the building he had tried to take refuge in, hoping that perhaps life had other business there and would not train its sights on him. But it quickly became clear that life had indeed trained its sights on this one man and was not about to let him off easily. The man attempted to find an escape, to return to what he had been doing before life, in its unfathomable wisdom or malice, had turned on him. But life is not so easily out-maneuvered.

Finally, life had the man trapped down a hallway, many floors up, with all exits cut off. As life bore down on the man, he quickly dove into the door to his left, slamming the door in life’s face. He locked the door and quickly began moving whatever furniture he could in front of the door, hoping to at least slow life down while he regrouped and came up with his escape plan.

To his surprise, it worked. He could hear life banging on the door, yelling, but it seemed unable to breach the barrier he had erected against it. Quickly, the man began calling through the contacts in his phone for help. To his dismay, none of those closest to him answered. He left frantic messages, assuming they would call right back with plans, supplies, swat teams – whatever it took to get him out safely. When no one returned his calls quickly, he began calling his other contacts to explain that life had him trapped. Most said with a weary tone, “yeah – that’s life alright.”

Meanwhile, he could hear life breathing heavily right outside the door. Sometimes it would growl and the man would despair of ever escaping. Finally, the man stopped and looked around the room he was in. He was pleasantly surprised to discover that the room was comfortable, well appointed and had everything someone in a siege situation might need while waiting for rescue. While the man would much rather have be allowed to carry on with his day instead of getting trapped by life, if he was going to be trapped, this place was as good as one could hope for.

At first he kept waiting for rescue. Some days passed and his near-and-dear finally returned his messages, but far from being willing to mount a rescue effort, they too responded to his plight with “yeah – that’s life”. Only they felt the need to then castigate the man for all of his supposed failures which had caused him to become captive to life. And, as if things weren’t bad enough, they proceeded to explain why the comfortable, well appointed room the man had found himself in was no better than a hovel and how he was now doomed to misery and pity. Soon enough, he began blocking their calls.

He could still hear life just outside the door, just waiting. A couple of times the man did panic and try to escape. But each time, life was there, right outside the doorway, shoving him back in and threatening him with a fate far worse than entrapment in a room not of his own choosing.

So, having no other options, the man settled into his room, making the best of it. He made peace with the fact that he was trapped and, in time, even began to appreciate all that the room had to offer enough to consider himself blessed. Sometimes he would even thank life for forcing him into this nice, comfortable room which was clearly meant just for him. And so it after enough time had passed, the man no longer thought of the room as a place where he was trapped, but considered it a home, meant just for him.

Until one day life, being filled with obviously ill intent, tired of guard duty and slipped in under the door. It began bearing down on the man, quite menacingly, but the man, who never was one to take things lying down, mounted his best defense. He created barriers and escape plans. He called for help and raised a ruckus. He begged the universe to intervene on his behalf.

But life just kept bearing down on him, blocking his every move and shutting out any who would help. Finally the man found himself backed into a corner with life bearing down ever more ferociously upon him. He tried to continue his fight, but soon life had pushed him so far into the corner that he could no longer even stand. The man cried and begged for mercy. He hyperventilated and spasmed and cursed life and the powers of the universe and all of humanity for allowing such an awful fate to befall him.

And finally, when the man lay on the floor, utterly spent, curled up like a baby just before birth, he spotted it. It was a door handle. He stared at it in confusion for a moment. But with life now on top of him, squeezing the very breath of life out of him, he reached for the door handle and turned it. Instantly, a small hidden door, just by his head opened and he squeezed himself through it, with life close on his heals.

Once through the door, the man quickly straightened himself, prepared to run, but froze at the sight before him. For here in front of him, right on the other side of this door was the world as he had only known it in dreams from long ago when he was a child. It was everything he had ever wanted, but had given up even imagining long ago as a foolish child’s dream. Unlike the room he had felt blessed to reside in not very long ago, it was wide-open and free. Full of adventure and joy and all that his heart could desire. And here it was, right before him, like it had been just waiting for him to arrive.

In confusion, the man looked around and saw life squeezing through the little door he had entered through. Only now life no longer looked threatening, full of malice and ill intent. Quite to the contrary, it looked jolly and pleased. When life turned towards the man, it was filled with affection and approached like an old friend, clasping him about the shoulders and laughing at the befuddled look on his face.

And then it dawned on the man. This place that his heart was made for, that he had given up for as a childish dream, it was real. It was where he belonged. And if life had not pushed him into that corner, he never would have found it. He had lived in that room for a very long time and knew it well, but had never seen that little, hidden doorknob before because it could only be seen from just that spot and that angle that life had pushed him into. From that day forward, the man was at peace. With himself, his place in the world and even with life.

The end.

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