“He walked with an imaginary limp.” A voice whispered to me.
“What do you mean by ‘imaginary limp’?” I asked.
“There was nothing physically wrong with him, he had been through some hard times in his life which made him feel as if he were wounded in war or something.”
“Was he in a war?” I asked.
“Metaphorically yes. Life can be a war, you know?”
“In which sense? He was always smiling and laughing.”
“In between the teardrops there can be laughter – but the laughter fades while the tears leave a permanent stain.”
The voice faded and I stood there thinking about what it had to say. I thought about the old man and I wondered if it were true.
Each person in the world is fighting a war. Some are visible and some are hidden. The wars inspire; Its the reason artists create, a performer performs and some people hide inside their homes too frightened to step outside.
I spoke to that voice in the evening.
“I understand that you were referring to yourself.”
“In the book you just published, you are the man walking with the limp?”
He laughed, took a sip of his scotch, then began to speak.
“You come home and there is no one there.
Affection can be as scarce as a well of water in a desert.”
He looked down at his scotch and he moved it in a circular motion which created waves of gold swirling in the glass.
“When I was a kid I thought that life would welcome me. As I grew up, I began to sense a dark cloud that would follow me wherever I would go. That cloud I know now, was depression. Back then I just thought it was being in a slump. I found some laughter in between the tears and learned to smile. I found the strength to love even after love had betrayed me. I took a pill each day to balance my chemistry.
“So why do you walk with an imaginary limp?”
“Well, I get tired sometimes and it’s a habit I picked up from God knows when. I am better these days, wealthy, more than I could have imagined. Successful and living the life I dreamed of. But I still cry at times. I’ve lost a lot of friends in my lifetime – that cloud still follows me wherever I go. Still I fight it.”
“So what’s the point of fighting if we all end up in the same place in the end?”
“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey. What we do in between birth and death is what defines us. You cannot give a shit about what others think about the choices you make. I believe I have made that clear in my writing and in life, yes?”
“You must live your life, not the one that is expected of you. Life,” He pointed to his sandwich, “if life is a sandwich, you are the beef and everyone else are simply the condiments. Did I make myself clear?”