Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

There’s a guy standing at a busy crossroads.

He’s smoking a cigarette, oblivious to the cars and lights flashing past him. He can feel the northwestern evening breeze flowing over his naked toes. Except for the slow, robotic drag he takes off his cigarette, he’s perfectly still. His gaze is locked on the massive rocky mountain’s peak. Darkness is creeping in, but there’s a glowing ache in the young man’s eyes. It burns brighter than all the streetlights around him. Brighter than the smartphone screens of passersby. Brighter than the early, timid stars shining. The pain he’s been running from these last few weeks has caught up with him. And on this cold night, in Canada’s far West End, it’s finally caught fire. But he doesn’t mind: he knows the feeling. He knew this would happen, sooner than later. So he just stands there, letting the hurt and the harm fill his whole being. He focuses on the mountain’s summit. This distant, seemingly unattainable, peaceful place. Hundreds of questions begin raining down on him, drenching him in doubt. Will he get there one day? Will he find the strength to climb up his pile of woes, to clear a way through the sorrows, to leave all of the ghosts and the burning boats behind? And, inevitably, this whirlwind of question marks starts flipping through all of the bloody pages he’s been trying to turn. It lifts him up his feet, hurling him down a bumpy memory lane. He sees all of the love he’s stolen and given, all of the tears and the tradeoffs, all of the I love you’s and fuck off’s. And in the midst of it all, an unexpected feeling of bliss washes over him. He isn’t anxious or disconnected anymore. He tries as best as he can to hang on to the ephemeral smiles his memory has crystallized, before his here and now blows them to dust again. He smiles. The corner of his upper lip connects with the fresh tear coming down his cheek. He feels humbled, thankful to have experienced it all. And under this cold Canadian night sky, he remembers that being alive is enough. More than enough.

Lighting another cigarette, he walks home, fires up his laptop, and writes all of it down so he doesn’t forget, again.