2018 Apr 24: 5 minutes
"Here's how you live," the old man whispered to me.
"One, they think they know what they want in life, but they don't know. They keep chasing one thing or another, but it never makes them happy.
"Two, they'll teach you lots of things to help them get what they think they want, but it's mostly useless. You're going to have a lot of things to unlearn. And so will they, just like I did.
"And three, eventually you stop needing them. They'll need you. And they'll be trying to lure you out. Don't let them."
I couldn't stay there for long but I tried to remember as much of what he said as possible. My parents would be taking me home in minutes.
The next time we went there, the old man was gone, but my parents were telling me everything he said was wrong.
10 minutes: We build it from
"We build it from stone, steel, and ideas," they told me. "See this? Some of the highest quality material from around the world, gathered here for us, and all that limits us is our own imagination."
"I don't know," I said. "I can imagine a lot."
"Ha!" the man answered. "But do you know how you can get from here to there? We have a lot of planners, designers, and engineers to turn those wild imaginings into actual reality."
"So who gets to do all the imagining?" I asked hopefully.
"Whoever has the most money!" the man laughed, slapping me on the back.
"Well, I guess it was going to be a long road from where I am to there then," I thought, and I didn't know how to get from here to there.
"You can work hard and get some of the way," the man would later tell me. "But the secrets of the last steps, well, either I don't know them or I can't tell you, but you're not getting them from me. How much do you want it, is the real question. How much are you willing to sacrifice? Sweat? Tears? Blood? Even that will not be enough."
I didn't realize then just how much I would have to sacrifice to get to where I once thought I wanted to go, but I didn't know any better then. And so yes, I lost sweat, tears, and maybe even a little blood in pursuit of a dream that eventually turned into a nightmare.