On the eve of thirtiness, out of shape and out of breath with the endless chasing of soon impossible dreams; on the verge of losing my excuse for un-success, for un-immortality, for un-greatness; on the brink of tumbling into the human world of dissolved hopes and fading lights, I step out into the night air. The heavy door clicks shut behind me, click. Tick.
I know I am going to die at forty. This is not a pretentious claim to throw at poet-groupies. This is not wishful thinking. I do not want to die young. I want to live till I cannot stand or eat or see or breathe. I want to know what it feels like to be trapped in a useless body, haunted by floating memories. This is not something I say with burning eyes to look intensely and beautifully mortal. But I am going to die at forty. And soon I will be thirty. Once I was ten and once I did not exist. The trouble is that now I am thirty and I still do not exist. I am nothing. I am no one. I am not famous or rich or successful or beautiful or wonderfully talented. I am average. I am mediocre. I am not a legend in my own time. I am not a rebel or a leader or a winner. I am thirty and I am nothing, in the cold night air.
With small steps I walk towards the lake. The wind swirls like a flute around me and I sigh like a pipe. My feet are drums. The cry is building up. I increase my pace. The moon hums in tune, various notes dancing out from various clouds. Piano sky, black and white. I walk towards the lake surrounded by music; as I draw nearer the song rises to a crescendo. The stars twinkle like so many stringed sitars. Violin trees. The whole of existence is howling with me, howling at the moon, with the moon, howling into the loneliness here and beyond. I am echoed by the earth, which knows that it too is dying and has not fulfilled its purpose. Creation was once young too. Once it was ten and once it was nothing. And now, having cared so much and tried so hard and bloomed and glowed and erupted, it is still nothing. I reach the lake and howl into the distance, mourning what may never be.
I know that I will die at forty because I saw it in a dream, or rather, in several dreams, enough dreams to become reality. And in these dreams I was standing by the very brink of dark water and thinking about why I was there. I looked deep into myself and the music blew all around me and in the dreams I came to the conclusion that I had done all I wanted to, I had become all I ever would, all I ever wanted to be, and in the dreams, knowing this, I stopped being.
And so all these years I strode forward briskly and confidently because I was on a journey that led to that inevitable day beside the black. There was only one path and it was one of magnificence and it ended in completeness. This is what I believed and this is what I knew.
I am almost thrity and I still believe that I will die at forty. But I wonder sometimes, I wonder now whether I was mistaken. I am thirty and I am not worthy of completeness. What if I am mistaken? What if I will stand by the water on my last day and look deep into myself and see the charred remains of the last of my dreams? What if it is not completeness that leads me into the water, but a complete emptiness?
I stand by the water now, old and young at the same time. Children of every age, tender and hopeful, stand inside me, clutching their prayers. They had so much planned for me; they had so much faith that everything would work out, that everything would be as I wanted it to be. They never once faltered and never once complained or cried, because they always knew that everything had a purpose. I always believed that I had a purpose.
The earth, like me, destined for greatness and like me nearly wasted, howls into the distance, adding its cry to mine, in the cold night air. The flute-wind gusts and the moonbeams wail until the anguish finally reaches a trembling crescendo, and then bursts into silence. I walk slowly back to my life, nearly thirty, to face the uncertainty of dreams.