…and it’s time to return to being nobody special.

The love of your life and your small dog are with you for over half of the weekend. You might visit your Dad or your Aunt, and put in some volunteer time with your mentee or the lady beset with terminal cancer. To each of these beings, you are somebody special.

You watch an action film, and project yourself onto the hero as he evades death a dozen times and sleeps with almost as many women. You might drink some beer and lapse into a fantasy world where you start up the next online empire that all of the cool kids flock to. For a weekend is a brief return to the boundless dreams of youth.

At your desk on another oppressive Monday morning, you are surrounded by people who are smarter than you, quicker, and more full of complex corporate social skills. None of the old friends you tried to reconnect with online have responded to you. You are handed work you could have done when you were ten. Copy, paste, check a few lines of code, copy, paste.

A little time to dream cannot be permitted throughout a week like this one. Or, to be more accurate, your dreams of grandeur flow completely from small successes and faint praise that pricks your otherwise deadly dull week. By Friday, you have the potential to become the CEO of the company if you play your cards right.

But, the weekend means you get to play inside your own dreams, not the ones some other man made and permitted you to peak into for a pitiful paycheck. You wake up occasionally inside an ever-blackening world of fellow grownups furiously trying to kill and recapture their dreams all at once. You keep these morbid beings at arms length, but you can no longer come to the party just to skulk in the corner with a cup of beer.

Out here, in this world, the one you helped build with your aimless sleepwalker’s hands, you are nobody special, nobody talked about, nobody missed.

…obsessed with yourself, the past, Time and death.

You are the center of the universe. When you hear information about something not going right, you know that you are somehow to blame, or that others are to blame for not heeding your words. You hear conversations at parties just out of earshot, and think people are talking about you. When you pound into the office, and someone asks how your weekend went, you actually believe that she is burning with desire to know all about you. You believe the entire world notices when you have a hair or two out of place on your head.

You keep yourself in a constant state of remembering every last little way someone slighted you. You can go back in your mind twenty years in time, and get worked into a furious ranting state about the way he was in the wrong and you were in the right. The entire notion of forgiving and forgetting is an alien and foreign concept to you. You can only forgive and forget if the other person is sought out, and made to apologize a dozen times, or perhaps if you learn of some great karmic vengeance having been wrought upon that soul.

When you aren’t obsessing over yourself or the past, you take time to ponder Time itself, and remark to anyone who’ll listen how it seems like only yesterday you were doing something important five years ago. You are generally anxious about the future, for you are certain that it holds little good in store for you, having had most of your life slip through your hands due to an obsession with the past and a failure to accomplish anything in the present.

Finally, you let visions of your own death consume you. Death is waiting for you around the next corner, because you can’t possibly have good enough luck to live past the age of fifty. Every ache and pain that besets you becomes magnified to take on the role of a symptom for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, etc. You are convinced you’re aging more rapidly than other people your age, and that God has in mind for you a swift and sneaky sort of death that will come upon you while you’re still obsessing over the past, and preparing for your big self improvement year in which you’ll finally do something great with your life.

… wondering if you’ve been reading all the wrong signs.

And, listening to all the wrong voices. And focusing your attention in all the wrong places. Does a fully realized man sit around attempting to formulate some new way of being each year, then treat his life like a science lab? Does he pause to analyze the results, and scrutinize his words and deeds as if he were an alchemist looking to turn his very self into gold?

In all the years you moved through life at your most happiest, you ignored all of the signs around you, and paid little heed to the critics barking in your face. You had a pristine moral compass that was sullied only by your mistaken notion that the world knew better.

You presumed five years ago that you should start doing more to help others, and only some sanctimonious, save-the-world kind of cause would do. Never mind helping yourself become a fully realized man. Never mind avoiding hurting the ones you loved in your mission to become Gandhi II. Your journey has brought you here, to this company that sells stuff to non-profits. Your gain, the fat you added to your coffers, seems to always eclipse any good you do or help you offer.

But then, maybe it’s time to redefine just what help is. In some Grand Accountant’s Book of Books, does a simple gesture like a car jump started do more for that other soul’s well being than you’d ever know? Could you have helped someone snap out of a rapidly spiraling funk with just a smile?

Or, were all those hours spent “mentoring” that youth who’s now in jail simply been a staving off of the inevitable? Did your money sent to that favorite non-profit simply pay for its employees to retain a snack machine in the break room?

You know the answer to these questions, or, you’re a lot closer to knowing than you once were. You know the value of being a decent parent over being a reckless, drunken comedian fixated on adulation. You know the years when things come back to you in abundance were the years you left your heart in a state of being open and unconditionally giving, no matter what the hours and dollars were you gave back to the community. In fact, if you think about it for a bit, you probably had some years where you donated more and received much less–because, inside, you were petty and bitter, and your heart was a steel trap.

…and now it’s time to create some New Year’s resolutions.

Now that all of the stuff of life that was not routine has packed its bags and left town, you can get about your business building spreadsheets and plans to do more and be more. You can re-read Tony Robbins to make your self feel bigger, and re-read books on philosophy and math to make your brain feel smarter.

You can wake up an hour earlier, and run more, lift more weights, do more push-ups. Aspire to do great things and be great–your days are numbered on this earth. But first, hit the snooze button and be sure to make room for a nap upon arriving home from work tonight.

…some time after the sky has blackened for good.

The weekend is almost over, and you have not really seen the sun at all since Friday. A blanket hung over the city, wringing itself profusely any time you wanted to step outside with the dog. You gave yourself a motivational speech each hour, but these did no good until 8 PM on Sunday arrived, and the workweek spilled into full view. With a guarana pill and a can of Coke, you burst into a fever of singing, dancing, cleaning, cutting your hair and working out with the weights. It was time to write a thing or two, too.

…afraid that the darkness and chaos might swallow you up.

You go to bed each night in hopes that the light will illuminate your dreaming brain, but each morning you awake in vain, full of fear and out of sorts because your brain reports nothing but the black memories of loss and the infinite possibilities of chaos. You ran through the early morning hours naked in a bog of souls once smiling children now rabid demon dogs. Some latch hold of you in the hour before the light, and walk with you through the cotton mouth stumbling to reset yourself right. But, the daylight offers the opportunity to move through comforting predictability, and you get paid to take the chaos of others and order it rightly and neatly.

…full of bondage to another new car.

You’re too old and experienced now to get excited about all of the fancy extras that come with a more recent model’s package. The shiny, spotless thing in your parking slot looks only to your eyes as it will two years from now–brute transportation owned mostly by the bank, that provides you the luxury of not having to take buses and trains to work. You see the months where that extra few hundred dollars is going to mean saying no to any number of invitations to go have lunch or party.

It was a weighing of two pains, really: the visit every two months to the mechanic to have him let you know that your foolish American sports car purchase was a deeply flawed, rather unsafe beast; or, the pain of being in additional bondage yet again–that slightly-cracked window of being debt free now slammed shut in your face.