“But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,
But often, in the din of strife,
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course.”
― Matthew Arnold
Nick’s life heavily revolved around his work. Each day — be it weekday or weekend — he clocked in at 9 am (sharp) in the morning and clocked out an hour ahead of midnight. He had an undying hunger to be amongst the top 1% of the 1% employees of his high-end tech company. His hard work did eventually pay off, and he rose up in ranks like a phoenix from her ashes.
Yet strangely, the best part of his day wasn’t when his office burst into claps for his contribution to the company. Nor was it when his boss constantly praised him and set him as a standard example for what an ideal employee should be.
The best was when he made his back home, his heels clicking away in the narrow and peaceful pathway that led him there. At this time of the day, it was him…and only him, with his thoughts alone. During these fleeting moments, a buried existence would turn inside him. He would get carried away by the wind, like the rustling leaves of autumn nights. His mind would freely wander, embracing the mystical shapes made by the clouds above and the scents brewed by the soil below.
But then, after reaching home, eyes shut, he always woke up in a realm he had forgotten the night before. In the morning, he knew he could see the future — the same office routine and the sublime dream of that thing turning inside him. It’s those nights that kept him going and he didn’t mind working all day to achieve them.
It’s his hard work that took his company to new heights. Literally. What was once started in a 450 sq. ft. apartment was now a million-dollar company, moving to a new multi-storied office. For most employees, this shift was well-welcomed. But for Nick, this changed everything.
His company’s growth came with a hefty price tag. The big move forced him to find a new home, closer to the new office, ditching his old peaceful abode. And it’s not his home he missed, but the tranquil path that led to it. His only mode of escape was now gone. Even so, assuming — or rather hoping — that his walks back home would still be the same, he made the leap.
As expected from him, he outshined everyone on the first day itself at the new office. When the day turned blue, he made his way out to finally dissolve into his own little world. However, after only a minute into his walk, he realized that the oasis of his serenity had disappeared amidst the bustling city. The glaring lights and tall skyscrapers had dwindled the sky above and below him was nothing but solid concrete.
Craving his buried life, he turned around the corner, into a shady bar. “Have a drink?” asked the bartender. “Need one!” he cried. With his eyes closed, he gulped down a glass of whiskey, hearing that thing turn in its grave.
A few more rounds and he could see it from a distance. A few more…and the tealights in him stacked up, giving him hope, but not burning like they once did.