Book Excerpt: For One More Day by Mitch Albom

She exhaled softly, “I couldn’t imagine a life without children. Once, I even… Wait. Let’s see.”
She guided me toward the large tree on the corner near our house.
“This was late one night, when I couldn’t sleep.” She rubbed her hand over the bark as if unearthing an old treasure. “Ah. Still here.”
I leaned in. The word PLEASE had been carved into the side. Small crooked letters. You had to look carefully, but there it was. PLEASE.
“You and Roberta weren’t the only ones who carved,” she said, smiling.
“What is it?”
“A prayer.”
“For a child?”
She nodded.
“For me?”
Another nod.
“On a tree?”
“Trees spend all day looking up at God.”
I made a face.
“I know.” She lifted her hands in surrender. “You’re so corny, Mom.”
She touched the bark again, then made a small hmm sound. She seemed to be considering everything that happened since the afternoon I came into the world. I wondered how that sound would change if she knew the whole story.
“So,” she said, moving away, “now you know how badly someone wanted you, Charley. Children forget that sometimes. They think of themselves as a burden instead of a wish granted.”
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Lust for Comfort. (The Prophet by Khalil Gibran)

And tell me, people of Orphalese, what have you in these houses? And what is it you guard with fastened doors?

Have you peace, the quiet urge that reveals your power?

Have you remembrances, the glimmering arches that span the summits of the mind?

Have you beauty, that leads the heart from things fashioned of wood and stone to the holy mountains?

Tell me, have you these in your houses?

Or have you only COMFORT, and the LUST for COMFORT, that stealthy thing that enters the house a guest, and then becomes a host, and then a MASTER?

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I Will Be Relieved.

She sat alone, in a corner, in a big house. The house was big, because she felt small. As years had passed, she realized: her muscles weak, her bones brittle, her heart beating slower by the day, and silent by night. But there were times, when her heart beat fast, at speed of light. Those times did come, but as rare and as frequent as the full moon. And here she is, in her lows right now. Sitting peacefully at sight, but a grenade inside. Still as a wall. sitting on its axis, motionless. The only sound around her came from the powerful inhales and exhales of her breath. It takes an effort to breathe. ‘I need power I don’t have. I am so alone.’

And there she sits. with legs crossed at the knees. Her numb white feet in anguish and pain, not willing to touch the ground beneath. They have life of their own. They hurt, they burn, they have to yet yearn, another day, another hour, another second. They have to touch that floor. Support the weight. It’s their duty. She has nothing else to walk with. Her bones so brittle, they may break and the agony of pain so high that she may not even notice. Situated on that sofa, which might feel soft for most except her. She feels alone. She is alone. ‘Yes, they love me, yes, they care. But they don’t have time and there’s not a thing that can be done. I am old and alone. And that’s the way I shall be. This is my destiny till death. I have no comfort. And I am way outside their comfort zones. Busy with life, they are. And I am a nuisance to life itself.’ The thought fills her eyes with invisible tears. Since her life is at the edge where tears demand effort. ‘Anytime now is my time.’ She prays to God for the mercy of death. No longer can she live, with this heavy, agonizing breath.

She put her left arm on the arm rest. She is holding a cigarette, half smoked and still burning in her densely wrinkled trembling hands. With effort worth a ton she lifts that a kilo of osmium worth of ash. And touches it to her lips. And now she is breathing it in. Sucking the only pleasure she has left in her life. The smoke is swirling in the still air. Showing her images of her darkest deepest secrets. And it may have also shown her, the solutions to her problems. But how could she see. She blind in sight so literally. Losing her senses every second the clock ticks. And, right now it is ticking. It’s going tick, tick, tick.

The ticks of the clock pointing to the passage of worthless struggle. It’s getting dark. But it gets dark every night. And it has been this way since so many nights now. She may not be even aware of it. However, it is getting dark. And it is that time, where she has to get up to turn on a light. Her muscles, bones, skin and mind, all against the idea of movement. However it doesn’t matter what she has to do. She will never be told do anything. It’s not her duty neither her time. It’s the time of the next generation to worry about day and night.

Life passes so slowly for the old. She’s hungry, her stomach growls. But theirs nothing in the house, not a single ounce. Water is far off her reach. She has to get up. She will move. She is moving. She is now moving her legs slower than a sloth. Within the time she will take to stand on those legs, a normal person might be able to go fishing and back. Oh good, she is done. Now she is trying with all her might. Grabbing onto the sofa with so much power as if she feared she might fall down. More than the thought of falling burns her inside, the thought of the effort she will have to put in to get back up, kills her and scars her so deep. Everyday, every second of her life.

She is fearful, ‘ afraid, the day-to-day tasks have been battles for her soul. Her body is not even counted. She works out of habit and she moves out of memory. Her body is numb with pain. She doesn’t feel a thing. She sits here waiting everyday, for just someone, someone to help her, ask her, give her and feel her sorrow with her.

But no one arrives all day. The ones who do arrive the place with purpose of sleep. And she asks them politely, carefully and lovingly, more than love, out of fear of being let go. For this hour is the only hour of joy in the twenty-four hours of the day. When another living soul is around her. And she is free to say what she has to, or so she thinks and doesn’t implement. Her fear of letting go holds her back of saying a word. Her conscience doesn’t even realize her fears which have been buried and embossed so deep.

But she is thankful, for having her senses even though she has none. And out of memory of her habits, even though she had no real memories, she walks and talks. But fear has taken over her, the fear and fright that someday she might, be laying on these floors, covered in dust and dirt, and excreting in her pants, with not a soul to ask for a hand. Most days, she does this as a practice as she sits alone, in the eye of her mind she sees what could be worst and thanks her Lord for all the power she has left inside and is still able to use. For without it, she will be a dead body with a living breathing soul. Tired of her life, laying in a single place, day after day, waiting for none except the arms of death, imagining the warmth those arms will bring. And they will wrap around her cold, wrinkled, numb body. Tight enough, they will embrace her soul. Warm enough that she may be comforted. She will be relieved of this pain. And the ones who inflict will suffer again. With this thought she is able to breathe, those heavy painful dry breaths. She endures herself. And is always at the edge.

I Will Be Relieved…

The Hearts Bleeding Without Red

Sitting alone, she began staring at the cafeteria. There was no place for her anywhere. She couldn’t sit on the stair, with that stylish group of girls, neither on the chairs with that funny group of guys; laughing and cheering. From far off, she kept thinking, “they are laughing. I’m hilarious, I’m a joke. Even though, deep down, she knew she is the best, she has been told that by the best people, the teachers, the principal, from kindergarten till day. But, still, its a hollow swallowing her every breath. It feels like a void. Theirs so much noise and still no sound, nothing to comfort, nothing to ease that lonely little voice inside. She’s alone in a crowd.

Why is that, she was sitting right next to them, just a few days ago, she was their best friend. Just a few days ago, she was the person they waited for, saved a chair for, seemed to care for. What happened? ‘NO’ is what happened. she said ‘NO’,  she said no to that senior, in agitation and abruption, she was tensed, she was bewildered, unhappy, and depressed, no one could see it, she hid it so perfectly, she was trained to do that. She was trained to not show off anything she felt. ever.  ‘People will use you.’  They said to her. ‘People will use you and hurt you and exploit you. Men are made to exploit women. They use them. Don’t ever come open in front of anyone. Be alone, but not open.’

And. Yes! They were right. She got used, even with the fake smile. She wanted to be accompanied. She was desperate for company. Heart burning, head boiling, ‘I want you. Please, sit with me. I need to talk.’ But. No! she kept it inside, called it a ‘drama’. She had went through and gotten over so much alone. She had started calling all social needs a ‘drama’.

She used to give up her private time, for company; give odd people lifts in her car, just to feel the presence of another soul, talking to her, the words that came out of their mouths should be for ‘her’, she wanted to hear it, anything, bragging or lose talk, anything from someone else  addressing ‘her’. The silence of the noise killed her.

She decided to get off that corner, go unto those four boys, since she had only fought with one, ‘the others shouldn’t be mad at me, I have been sitting with them everyday for six months now, how can they kick me out so quick?’ she though and took a step in their direction. Heart beat rising with every breath, she started to sweat. ‘At least I’m honest. I care. I was a good person. I only said ‘no’ to work, In a very abrupt and hateful manner. Of course. But he did say he loved me and cared and I could share anything with him. He might forgive that small mistake. I was hurt. How can a lover not see that?’ She approached the best one and asked, ‘what’s up?’ No answer. She was invisible. But, luckily, someone put a hand on her shoulder. Another person she had fought with was behind her smiling.

And then she realized, ‘Yes! I was wrong but, I was wrong with both these people. The ones who care, will keep you as long as they can. She turned to him and smiled, gave him a half ,awkward hug. Suddenly all the pressure developing inside her, on the verge of turning into hysteria, flew away. It took a single touch. A friendly touch. By a real, honest friend. Not a foul lover. Many told her they loved her but they all left with single, small talk.

And the deep ones stayed, because they had realized her depth, they still cared, they weren’t a lot, but the few of the best, the encouraging, the efficient, the hearty.

Yes! I am still alive, its not just noise anymore, I’m here. I’m happy. I have a friend, and he still likes me around, and I will be sincere with him till my last breath. Because love isn’t physical attraction: it’s emotional connection. It’s understanding silence. And helping the one who doesn’t want it but needs it, caring about those who don’t express it, but feel it, healing those who are wounded but not restless. The hearts that are bleeding without red.

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Voltaire: Ancient and Modern

‘The Chinese, more than a two hundred years before our era, constructed that “Great Wall” which was not able to save them from the invasion of the Tartars. The Egyptians, three thousand years before, had overloaded the Earth with their astonishing Pyramids, which had a base of about ninety thousand square feet. Nobody doubts that, if one wishes to undertake today these useless works, one could easily succeed by a lavish expenditure of money. The great wall of China is a monument to fear; the pyramids are monuments to vanity and superstition. Both bear witness to a great patience in the peoples, but to no superior genius. Neither the Chinese nor the Egyptians would have been able to make even a statue such as those which our sculptors form today.’

Excerpt from ‘The Portable Voltaire’ by Ben Ray Redman.

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Portrait of Voltaire
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Hercules Crowned by Glory by Martin Van den Bogaert.

 

That Night

A short time that feels like ages ago, a brief, everlasting night which meant more than the seasons, the years, and the ages, which passed and are yet to come:

Was a Night…

A night which promised a lifetime of happiness, a night which with a vow, ‘This night and then every night to come.’

That night which was the turning point of my life, that night in which ‘we’ were born, A night when the moon came closer to earth, lit the world with its silver bright glow.

When the weather shifted with the shift of your mood, and the winds blew with the intensity of your words, and the rain showered in conclusion of your prayers, and the souls danced to the music of your heart.

A beat so irresistible, so enchanting, so overwhelming, a beat so alive, filled with essence and sparkle, and my life which altered its path due to the sound of your mesmerizing voice.

That night when the sound of your so soothing voice healed all my wounds. That night in which God made us one. That night defined us. And…

This night is ours…

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Hallucinations

Life is supposed to be lived, and not wasted. That’s what everyone says. Yes it is very true it is supposed to be lived, but there are billions of people out there, and everyone has a different way of living it, individual lifestyles. There are articles everywhere telling people and inspiring them on how to live, and make the best out of themselves, but here’s my question, do the people who write these articles really live themselves the lives they teach others to live.

It’s a fantastic organ the brain, it has its secrets, and its weapons (imagination) and its physical and non-existent parts. It is widely known that the average human being only uses about ten percent of it. The not so physical part of our brain is what we call the mind, is that the part which contains our soul? But that is not what I want to talk about here.

It is me I am talking about. I am 19 years old, and I am very disturbed by all the information I have about the ideal life, coming from everywhere, I am sure most of you would agree about all that advice we are given, all the instructions we shall have to obey and all the knowledge we are given to take in, leaves our true minds in horror, and lost in a crowd, we have no idea where to go whom to listen to. It is interesting to note, how much all these institutions play a part in our daily, small decisions. I’m am talking here of the very basic, religion, family, rituals, culture and of course the wide spread internet which leaves all the knowledge of the world hanging around in our jeans.

Over the nineteen years of my life, I have only gained control of my conscious in the past five, but still I have no control over myself. There was a time when seventeen year olds were considered fully grown “adult” men and women, who had no trouble knowing what they want, of course, considering the limitations to information they were given, they had a choice either to rebel or to follow, and when it came to follow, they had only one decision to follow, the words their elders, at a very young age, embedded in their minds.

It seems that as the world’s information has grown infinitely and is now in the pockets of every human being, it has left us, the youth, very confused. We live our mental lives in a different realm every hour, of course, we do end up blaming our hormonal changes, but, really, do you think that is all it is?

It is supposed to be more than that, considering history, where very few people had this problem of not being able to think straight. We, on the other hand, are never able to think straight, we are like children, except that we don’t take pleasure from our imagination, instead we bare it like weight on our shoulders, on our conscience, and at night when we lay on our beds, our mind keeps giving us flashbacks of whatever we had thought and done which wasted our precious moments, and that arises guilt in our throats, blocking our nerves, making us tense, and the only way out is to masturbate to sleep.

Sooner than later this guilt becomes a form of pleasure, and anonymous quotes like, “The worst part about anything that’s self-destructive is that it’s so intimate. You become so close with your addictions and illnesses that leaving them behind is like killing the part of yourself that taught you how to survive.” become a pleasure to the senses, and we calm ourselves down, and instead of curing our illnesses, and trying to get out of the imaginary realm we have created, we end up making it our best of friend, not realizing that we, in our ideation are slowly leaning towards a form of schizophrenia.

Since we are not able to describe this to anyone, we let it take over our lives, and when we are finally ready to step out of this realm and make matters right, that’s when we realize it has been too late. Our conflicts with our past, our parents, our religion, our inner self and our prejudices have consumed and rotted the best part of our lives, and now that we are out of it, it is simply too late. There is no going back in time. Thus another pang of guilt clutches our hearts and vows to our soul:

“Till death do us apart.”

Realizing

Thinking about how a person changes in no time, And being called that person who changed so much. Made me hate myself to the extent I wanted to kill myself. But what are we taught in everyday experiences, and what advice do we give people, when they talk to us about the same things happening to them. We tell them to make it right. We tell them that they have a choice. We make a move for their favor. If we are too sincere. We tell them life is short, make it right, take the step before time flies.

One of my professors once said that if you want to make yourself and your situation better, do this: Step out of yourself, and look at yourself as another person, and give your self advice as a second person, and above all implement that advice.

It helps, it really does. Most of the times, in life, we take responsibility of the advice we give others very sincerely, especially when we see the sadness in someone’s eyes.

In the same way if we see ourselves like that, and get too emotionally sincere, give ourselves advice and implement it. We do become better.

I stepped out of me, looked at me, and thought, if you are being told you misunderstood, maybe you did. Get over it, and accept. It’s not everyday a person actually says sorry out loud. Whether they mean it or not, doesn’t really matter at this point. they said it, problem solved.

Now grow up, and act like a mature person. Do your part, say sorry. You miss them and you know it. They were important. Accept it.

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Why Me?

There are times in life when disappointment is inevitable. How so?

When someone you expect a lot from, love and care about, is sort of, visually, in your perspective of things, embarrassed of you, when you know that as you two were talking to each other a look of hatred passed their face, a look that you could not ignore, a look that actually made you ask, do they hate me? Are they embarrassed of me? Is a friendship which is making someone feel humiliated by just being in a conversation with you around people even a friendship? Is being seen walking around the premises of a certain educational institution with a certain someone (me), make this person feel so disgusted?

So many question run through your mind, all of a sudden, when that look crosses someones face. Someone who had recently become so important. It bewilders you and troubles you till days.

At some point you think maybe you were mistaken, it is unbelievable to have imagined something you would never expect of that person, thus you start believing, it was there.

‘I saw it, I’m not blind, I saw that humiliation on your face, even if you suppressed it, I know it was there, you don’t text me from behind a screen a week later saying it never crossed your mind,  we both know it did.’

I know I’m not cool enough for your high-end friend group. Of course you have a repute, of course you are perfect, or is it that you believe to be. But, Hey! You tried to break the ice, I was OK with that ice all in one big glacier blocking our paths, you broke it. And now if u regret breaking it, don’t hate me, “hate yourself”.

And don’t text me saying a terrible, lifeless, meaningless, elaborate worded sorry, just because you feel guilty. Everyone has a hint of what they feel. We believe that people don’t usually know what they feel but ‘they do’, they all do. Each one of them is conscious enough to know whats on their mind.

I don’t mind that you don’t like me, or my company; that you prefer sitting behind the screen, in a far corner of the city when you text me and talk to me as if we are the best of friends. I don’t have a problem with you being embarrassed of being seen with me but at least have the guts to say it.

I could never imagine myself getting attached to someone so quickly in a matter of months, and then breaking it in a twitch of an eye. And worst is that I have nothing other than this to fill my mind and my day and my blog, with what I feel because of that one person my entire brain is hammered. I am incapable of taking a peaceful nap. Attachments are lethal, They are fatal.

You don’t use my ’10 year imagination’ comment, to emotional blackmail me. And you definitely do not call my side of friendship fake. Yes! I have mood swings, Yes! I zone out, Yes! I’m not that attentive, but none of that means I’m fake.

I spent the last entire week in complete depression to end up with a sorry text, which says, Hey! I’m sorry. But I don’t know the reason to be sorry, I don’t know how I hurt you, but if i did I’m sorry.  Dude you cannot be sorry of something you feel, and you need to express it rather than let the other figure it out by the way you looked at them for one microsecond.

You say you are hurt, you were being ignored, you were the victim, Yes Sir. I’m the villain, I’m the villain of every story, I’m too real, and villains are real, reality is every ones villain, just like its mine. Its yours too.

Friendship in our world is not for the fair villains, its for the kewl heroes, you find people you look good with, and you sit with them and showoff your great creative, ‘better than thou’ personalities. That is how it works, a person genuinely getting attached to you is useless. Because they are embarrassment for your kind of persona. and you live your college life as a bunch of American high school jerks they show in movies.

If from what I wrote so far, you think I’m jealous, Yes! I am. I’m jealous; I’m burning; I rarely get attached to people, and when I do, I burn; I burn my heart and soul thinking why I wasn’t enough, just enough to let a friendship be a friendship for long enough to actually have potential memories; At least having memories wouldn’t make the distance feel as much as it does. At least I’ll have something to remember, something to laugh about, something to think about rather than ask WHY ME?maxresdefault