Friday, July 08, 2011

The Man On The Frozen Perch

Once upon a time a tired and lonely man rode an elevator up to the 9th floor of a building situated precisely where he did NOT want to be. He exited the elevator and used the metal key to allow himself entrance into the apartment that he most assuredly did NOT want to enter. The room was dark. It was dark because nobody lived there except for the man. He turned on a single light bulb hidden behind a purple (yes, purple) glass covering. The top of the apartment was white. The bottom of the apartment was white. The middle four feet of the apartment was a brown strip of paint that reached to every wall and every corner and wrapped around him into infinity. The tired and lonely man felt his stomach turn as he looked at the brown paint made black by the purple light. He saw his inflated blow-up bed and he thought of his lovely king sized bed that existed with all of its pillows and comforters in another time and another place. He saw his duffle bag in the corner full of clothes purchased in a lifetime that seemed not to be this life time. Perhaps worst of all he heard the howl. He had been in this apartment for fully four weeks now and the howl was present every night. He approached the sliding door and opened it. There was another sliding door beyond the first and he opened it as well. He stepped out on a slab of concrete suspended 90 feet in the air. The power of the howling wind took his breath away. The temperature, insanely far below zero, made his lungs hurt and within seconds his face was numb. Below, in the dim light which reflected from a nearby city, off of the clouds, the man saw lines of white. Turbulent lines. Churning lines. Angry threatening lines. These lines were waves and they would surely have washed over him, would have erased his misery by a merciful drowning, had he not been suspended far above them in his frozen perch.

A frozen perch 90 feet above death. It seemed appropriate.

The tired and lonely man made his way back within the safety and the warmth of his doors. As his face thawed he was grateful for the burn of nerve endings returning to life. He felt somehow that pain was appropriate. Surely a physical pain would be required to pay for whatever sins had sent him to this wretched life in this wretched place above his liquid death. He sat on the floor and leaned against the doors now covered in moisture. Moisture from the mixing of the heat within and the cold without. A winters dew of sorts. He felt the dew soak through his shirt and touch his skin. Any touch was welcome these days.

Opening a small rectangular and flat box resting by his side brought a jolt of life to the tired mans dim world. Within this box he could travel home and see memories in the millions of tiny pixels that glowed with an air of certainty from its screen. If pixels had feelings these were confident and reassuring. The little box would sometimes reveal the faces of those he remembered and missed. Sometimes letters would arrive in that box and he would read them. He lived for those pixels. Without them he would be truly and forever alone. And tonight the box held a letter! A letter from a precious one younger than himself. With true anticipation one only knows when he has not gazed into the eyes of another human soul in any meaningful way for far too long he clicked twice and opened the letter. It was poetry. Poetry that did not rhyme but nonetheless did sooth the soul. Yes, poetry to his heart. Among many other words the young one wrote the following...

"I cannot imagine what it must be like in that tiny room of that tiny apartment staring at that big lake. But I do know that you are living your story. And those who know you know that you are writing a story that anybody would want to read."

The tired and lonely man read the letter several times. And then he closed the lid on the precious pixels. He bowed his head. He gave a silent thanks for the pain. For the loneliness. For the seeming utter destitution of his life. Perhaps nobody understood. Perhaps nobody could "imagine what it must be like in that tiny room of that tiny apartment staring at that big lake." But a kind young one had spoken from her heart words that reminded him that he had not been forgotten by the one who writes the stories. She had taken the time to say "I care and I am reading" when every other life on earth seemed unaware of the man in the frozen perch. God breathed fresh life through an inkless, paperless, letter. And a little bit of the tired went away. A little bit of the loneliness lifted. He wondered if his story was to be a drama and a tragedy though he prayed for a comedy.

There would be many more dark nights for the tired and lonely man. Much more howling. But he kept that letter in a special place among the pixels. And when the tiredness seemed overwhelming and the loneliness seemed to swallow his soul he would click on it twice and read it again. And he would find the strength to get up, face the waves, and write more of his story. Someday, though he did not know it yet, it would serve him well as that young one became tired and a bit lonely herself. And he would on that day tell her that he actually did have a little glimpse of what it must be like to be in the darkness hearing the howling and wondering a bit fearfully what would come next.

And he would tell her that her story ... her story was beautiful. For her story did have drama. Her story did have comedy. But far and above everything else her story was a love story written by an author who could be trusted. And he, for one, could not wait to read it.