Life as a Machine

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
I wrote this piece to get people thinking about their choices and opinions on happiness.

Submitted: February 26, 2015

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Submitted: February 26, 2015

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"I think I want to leave. I don't like it here. I think I might be going insane."

"Everyone can feel isolated. I know what you are going through. You'll be fine."

"This is different. People have always told me they know exactly what I'm going through, but I don't think they actually know. It's weird. I always thought life would be easier."

"You'll be fine. You always are. You ma-"

"This is different. You and I both thought that I would adapt. We both thought I just had to get used to this, but it's been four years. How much longer am I supposed to wait? I feel trapped."

"Well what do you want to do? It's a little late to restart your life completely."

"Not necessarily. What if I just packed my shit and walked away from it all? I could leave it behind."

"I'm pretty sure that's easier said than done, and how do you think this would work?"

"I could start living out there, out in the world. I have to go to work now. We'll talk about this later," I say as I head for the door.

"Alright, we'll talk about it later," the mirror responds. He always does.

 

My journey to the workplace is simple and often very uneventful. The routine of waking up and getting ready and then joining the throng of people aboard the train has become so easy I feel confident in performing the tasks blindfolded. The masses are all thrown around on the train. Holding onto the handrails, they stumble back and forth along with the uneven tracks below our

feet. I sit in a small office where I slowly write small columns for the newspaper nobody reads anymore. During lunch I get the luxury of sitting by the window above the city, watching the ants scramble below me. Every day I choose a new one and create a life for the ant. It'll get an ant job, an ant family, maybe an ant car, and as I sulk back to my desk I wonder what that ant is doing at the same moment. I wonder what it's thinking, I wonder where it's actually headed, in it's life and at the current time. Hopefully off towards a better life than mine. Hopefully it won't do what I did.

"You know what my biggest regret in life is?"

"What?"

"I regret staying inside watching movies and playing video games and reading books and watching TV."

"Why? That's not so bad."

"Because by doing that I completely forgot to go outside and actually do things."

"What do you mean?"

"I didn't ever stay out late and meet up with friends when I wasn't supposed to. I always followed all the rules. I don't have any stories to tell now. Whenever I happen to sit with coworkers during lunch, they all tell me funny and exciting stories from back when we were just kids. Some of them just tell me about how they used to roam the streets as if they owned them, and I realize that I didn't even do that. I wish I could go back and create memories that I could look back on now."

"So? It's never to late to make memories."

"How the hell would I manage that now? I work all the time. We barely even see each other anymore."

I think one of these days I'll quit. I'll take all the money I have, grab a big backpack, get a bike, and start peddling until the road runs out.

"Why delay the inevitable?" he asks as I walk past the reflection in the window.

 

As I gather my belongings and head out the door I receive many looks. Normally I would be very uneasy about such stares, but I truly feel at peace for the first time in quite a while. As I sit in my car, fantasizing about the most badass ways to quit a job, somebody knocks on the window.

"Hey Phillip," I say as I roll down the window.

"What's going on man? You get fired?"

"Nope. Quit."

"Damn! How come?" he asks. He has a confused look on his face. I didn't think that he actually would have noticed me being gone. After all, we were only occasional lunch buddies. He didn't talk much. I don't really know why. Maybe he didn't have any stories to share either.

"I think I'm gonna do something, ya know?"

"Yeah, I think so. Good luck. I'll see you around."

As I drive off, a smile spreads across my face. I feel speed. I have never really thought about it before.

 

I've never been camping. Or hiking. Or really gone on an adventure to be honest. And I hate myself for it. I always thought that spending all of my time studying and learning more and more would help me accomplish great things in life. I never thought that I would be sitting next to those people who didn't study constantly and didn't spend the majority of their time inside. They actually did things. They lived a little. I tried so hard every day. Every single day. I forgot about the present. As kids we were told to do well in school so that we get accepted into a good college. Check. Then we needed to perform well in college to get a good job. Shit. I got a mediocre job. All that pain and isolation that I thought would give me a life of wealth and happiness was a waste. All the people I have ever worked with in my life never did what I did, but for some reason, we all ended up at the same spot. The only difference is that they did dumb shit and have stories to tell, and I can only tell you about the dog I had in middle school and how he was really cute. I didn't do dumb shit, and I don't have any stories to tell.

I spun my chair around and plopped down onto the cushion, pulling myself towards my desk. My laptop lit up as I opened it. I shut it again. I swiveled around, got up, and found my journal and began thinking. I didn't need some person behind a screen telling me how to live. I could do this the real way. A thought occurred. It cleared my mind and opened me up to new thoughts and ideas, like a wave washing over the sand, once again leaving a fresh, blank canvas. I realized that I was one of the ants. They remind me of machines. They do their tasks as if programmed, taking their orders, completing the job, and then restarting the cycle the following day. I was appalled that I had been following the same cycle for so many years now. How could I have been so blind? How did I not realize that if I hadn't quit my job I would still be one of those machines. Machines don't even think. They let others do that for them.

As I drove to the bank I turned up the radio and began playing the drums on my steering wheel. I was heading down the road at thirty-five miles an hour, with all the windows down I felt the seventy degree evening breeze roll through my Volkswagen Rabbit. The darkening sky had never looked so peaceful. I practically jumped out of my car as I pulled into a parking space. I withdrew one thousand dollars and smiled to myself as I held the money and walked back out to my car. As I drove to the outdoor store, I turned up the radio even more, singing along, not at all fazed by the looks I received from other drivers.

I skipped through the aisles, grabbing the things I thought might come in handy. I grabbed a hiking backpack, a tent, a sleeping bag, and plenty of other camping tools. Once I had finished loading them into my car, I darted back home and began packing my bag. After an hour or so, I filled up two gallon jugs with water and tied them to the bag. I was officially ready to embark on the most exciting journey of my life.


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