Lost Within

You’re in an upstairs hallway, the kind that has doors to the right and the left every few steps; and old, dusty portraits and hangings; and it just seems to go on forever; that is until the window, through which little can be seen for the dust that clings to the panes, filtering the sunlight like a bad dream. You don’t know where you came from, or where you’re going, or even why you’re here. You certainly have no idea where you are.

I’ll tell you where you are: you’re lost. And it’s not in the woods, where you would expect to be lost, or even in an endless field, which is where the mind so frequently seems to wander. It’s somewhere you’d think would be familiar, but its not. Why not?

Because you’re lost within the ages of yourself.

As you stand there in the silence of that upstairs hallway—not silence like a quiet afternoon without the scream of children playing or the rattle of the tv in the background, but true, unfettered silence, so complete that you cannot even hear the tick of a clock—you realize that you have been here before. The fading wallpaper is familiar. You’ve seen some of those old paintings before. Even the carpet beneath your toes is like something from a dream.

And then you see it, a face framed on the wall covered in years of dust and disuse. It’s a familiar face, a face you’ve seen thousands of times before. Who is it? You mother? Maybe. Certainly from the eyes it could be. Your father? Perhaps, though something still does not quite seem to fit.

And then it hits you: you’re staring at yourself. Through years and painful layers of dust and neglect, that face in the frame is you. The hallway is one you have been walking your entire life. The portraits on the walls are the faces that have kept you company on your journey. The doors have been your constant companions, all options, different paths you might have taken, but all left closed and undiscovered. And there you are, not at the beginning, not at the end, but somewhere in the middle, right in all the dust and age and peeling paper. Right in the thick of it all, lost, buried by the years and regret.

But not anymore. Behind you is a trail of footprints in the dusty carpet. Before you, one door stands just ajar. And the portrait isn’t covered by age and dust any longer; it’s bare and plain to see.

You’ve found yourself.