The lights at his office gradually began turning off, one room by one room, as he lurked in a corner, swiping left and right on Tinder, like a prospective miner digging for gold. It wasn’t late, the minute hand on his watch showed nine minutes after eleven in the night, a full eight hours before he would start afresh the next day, his list of tasks already well prepared, written down neatly on an A4 sized sheet. He liked planning his day in advance. It gave him a sense of direction; planning it down to the smallest bits like calling his friend to have green tea on the terrace or the people who needed to be spoken to, to divert their firm’s resources towards what he was selling or staring at the small statue of Buddha meditating, for a few minutes as part of his ten minute coffee break.
The details were important. It wasn’t enough to just list down the macro aspects of growth, because the mind already knew, indeed everyone’s mind already knew what needed to be done in order to create more value for themselves and the people they served; them being exercise, learning new skills, reading, writing and communicating in an engaging manner. But the specifics about these aspects were what mattered. If they weren’t listed down clearly, and quantified, it wasn’t of any use to think about them, and simply end up doing something else, only to start the whole process of regret, reform and thinking, all over again. It sucked. It was insanity to keep thinking and expecting results to miraculously occur, when the fact was everyone got what they deserved, by hook or crook. The universe didn’t know the meaning of hook or crook. It just knew thoughts and actions.
The books he was reading currently lay strewn across his desk. There were three of them, that he alternated every two to three days. One was philosophical, one was fiction and one was historical with a mix of anthropology, economics and politics, subjects that were vital to study the human project of survive and thrive, no matter what, over the millennia gone by.
When it was time to head home to get his seven hours of mandatory sleep, he decided he would stay for another hour more and watch a few modules of online courses that he had set to be self-paced, rather than applying for an official certificate that would need funds; since the content was the same, or so the platform claimed. Growth was addictive, provided skills were applied fruitfully by engaging in discussions with skeptics to win them over to one’s own point of view, or even agree to disagree, while respectfully acknowledging that each one’s opinion was grounded in fact and not subjective emotions, that were bound to be a result of culture; culture was anything that was followed by a large group of people such that it became fact, once repeated over and over again for a particular duration, hence they could be bad or good, or both, depending on the interests of other groups and people.
While he was at it, he ordered a burger.
Resisting the urge to pick up the phone and start texting, not that he was a popular recipient, but the opposite; he ventured out of his room to see what was happening outside and catch a bit of air, only to see people bent down on their phones, scrolling endlessly or engrossed in multiple apps, while leaning back on plush sofas and chairs, content to soak in the comfort and nonchalantly absorb whatever their virtual vices sought to package, for their individual personalities. No person ever saw the same content, especially the ones whose sophisticated algorithms understood the user better than themselves, seeking to shape the individual according to their existing notions rather than allow the user some leeway to shape themselves, deliberately or otherwise. It was a classic case of letting the tech control you rather than the other way around.
It was time.
Calmly, he took a few steps towards the lift and began climbing the stairs adjacent to it, in a slow, deliberate motion, consciously aware of each and every step, counting them as he went upstairs towards the terrace. He was taking the stairs to burn calories, rather than engage the lift. The air was cool, caressing his face as a lover would, gently, passionately, as if never wanting to let go. He reached the edge where another set of stairs led to the pool.
He undressed, clad only in his inner wear and jumped headlong into the cold water. Emerging from the adventure a few minutes later, soaked to the skin, and freezing, he felt deeply connected to his inner brain, as if the chemicals inside his brain were washing over from one end of his head to the other, still reeling from the shock.
He lay down and looked at the stars. And with a deep sigh, passed out.