And then he stepped outside and it was still raining…
It was a unique morning and he didn’t know what to expect from the rest of the day. But that probably meant the rain was fine, and it fit his hazy mood. How is one supposed to feel after achieving enlightenment?
There was a glide to his step, not to be confused with the kind of glide that might come with self-confidence, it felt more like how he typically experienced his morning commute—almost on autopilot.
The surprise sting of hot coffee on his tongue subtly confirmed that, yes, another day was underway. He was already at the office standing in front of the water cooler about two hours after his grand realization. A life’s worth of searching had come to an end earlier this morning. He had come to the end of the universe and saw what’s beyond it.
On the surface, he seemed a sensible man, reliable and steady to his coworkers. Truth be told, he was a restless searcher toiling away each waking hour with no idea what he was working toward.
“The search for the missing center,” that was the subtitle of his book, a book he’d been working on for more than 20 years. He had no clue what that meant. He just knew that he needed to keep on writing.
That is, until this morning when a toe strangled by a blanket almost led to his death.
Sounds strange, doesn’t it? That a man could die from a having a blanket rapped around his toe in his sleep? But it can happen.
If his blanket hadn’t cut off the circulation to his toe, if the pain and confusion to which he awoke didn’t send him into a state of shock (and we all know that shock can be deadly) his wife would have never uttered the words that led to his epiphany.
Up to this point, even though he had a nice home, loving family and two relatively new cars in the driveway, he saw his life as Shakespearean and in some ways, tragic. Failed efforts to love those around him kept him up nights. He did his best to burn the candle at both ends. He marked his path with the clues left by other artists that came before him.
Vincent VanGogh saw the world as extreme. John Lennon saw the world as lonely. Diane Arbus knocked against ideas of beauty.
As he lay there sipping water his wife—who could run mental circles around him—wanted to relieve his suffering. She searched Web MD on her iPhone, gave him blankets and water. And also, as a side-note, she put all of the Shakespearian drama of his life into perspective.
The framework for his life was set by his heroes. His path was lit ablaze by his personal quests. From what he had seen, all artists propel themselves through life like this, raging against the night until they’ve made a big enough spectacle of themselves to light the way for the next in line.
As far as he knew, none of them ever managed to get their burning questions answered.
But now here he was, sipping water in bed with the circulation returning to his toe, and his wife, almost in an offhand manner had just blurted out his answer, THE answer to life the universe and everything.
The missing center he spent the last 20 years documenting in his book was at last, filled in. A lifetime of searching was finished. His own actions made more sense to him now, so did the actions of those around him.
He was glad. For a second, he felt overwhelmed, but then, underwhelmed.
He took her iPhone and dialed his friend.
“I feel like I’m John Cleese in the middle of a Monty Python skit,” he said to his friend who was in his car, about to start his morning commute. “I feel like I’ve come to the end of the universe and someone has just handed me a fish sandwich.”
In his best Cleese impersonation, “Is that what I came all the way here for? A fish sandwich?”
“Yes, here you go.”
His friend chimed in.
“Well, I hope it gave you peace,” said his friend. “I’m all for a feeling of peace.”
It did feel peaceful, but with a twist of befuddlement.