The old man limped down three rows and threw himself down on the fine, upholstered chair that he knew better than his own soul. He rested his cane on the seat beside him and looked sadly at the big screen in front of him. He barely noticed the classy Greek urns that sat shining in the dim lights on either side of the screen. He saw the bright EXIT lights grow muted and he watched as the heavy drapes rolled back, exposing the white projection screen with its small glass beads embedded into it, with the thousands of tiny, evenly-spaced holes that let the sounds from the speakers and the sub-woofers behind it.
The show was about to begin: that tired story of his small accomplishments, made large by the magnification on that big screen, the lies he had lived for, the lies he had told about himself for most of his life, and he felt the anger inside growing until it wasn’t just a germ or a virus, it was his entire unfulfilled and empty life. The screen stayed blank, stark and black.
His hands gripped the armrests and he felt the sweat begin to develop on the back of his neck. He wiped his hands on his shirt and his palms were sticky. He felt sick.
Let it happen, he said to himself. Let it happen. He almost said it out loud. Where was the goal that he’d scored in that big game when his team won the league championship? Where were the accomplishments? What had become of his life? He tried counting his breath. He touched his tongue to the roof of his mouth, tried to get the psychic channel connected, that magic circuit he had mastered. Nothing.
After all these years, the dry and confident words of Dr. Maltz didn’t come. That false confidence he had built and he had built on for all those many years, where was it? He doubted his existence. And in that moment, he knew what he was and what he wasn’t.
Now his breath came in shallow puffs of air. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. He blinked and in that micro-second, a white dot appeared on the screen. It was followed by more and more, until he saw the stars. He saw the North Star. He saw the galaxy, spinning in front of him. He was transfixed, scared of what might come next. And then, time stopped for the old man.
He saw for the first time, how small he was, how futile his life had been, and what his future was going to be.