The Seven Five Nothing

The Seven Five Nothing are a collection of hyper-short stories, each written in a single sitting with no editting.


28. What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?

I was thirty five when I found the flyer. I had no idea where it had come from, but it was tucked inside one of my books, being used as a marker.

I hadn't looked at real book in a while, mostly choosing to read on my Kindle instead, and even then, I did that so rarely nowadays.

Time, you see, had gotten away from me. You know the drill; job, life, stuff. And actually, after I found the flyer, I tried to evaluate just what it was that stuff constituted. I wondered, what did I really do with my time? And the best answer I could come up with? The internet.

That's where I killed a lot of my hours - either with games, or porn, or just trawling Wikipedia, thinking it was making me smart, but never actually finding a use for any of this knowledge. Not that I really needed to remember it - because it was just in my pocket, or my tablet, or wherever I wanted it, anytime soon.

But this flyer - it stood out, because it asked just one thing: What would you do if you weren't afraid?

I don't know what it was for, and I don't recall ever seeing it before, but then, that's not really that unusual. I mean really, how many times do you pay attention to pieces of paper?

I assumed it must have struck a chord with my ex-girlfriend, and that the book was hers. Again, I couldn't recall where even that came from, but I took that flyer out and put it my back pocket, concluding that whoever had put it there was not necessarily reading this book anymore.

Now usually, I'm not one for quotes and shit. I find, like a lot of things, nothing really sticks in the head these days. Again, blame the internet here. At least, it is for me. The constant deluge of 'inspiring' words all over my Facebook news feed quickly became just a part of the noise. I used to roll my eyes at people for it. Nowadays, I can't even muster the energy for that. But somehow, this flyer stuck.

I went to work. I considered myself pretty normal, and so like most people, I hated my job. Of course, I'd lie about it. If anybody ever asked, at the least, I was upbeat about it. Not that many people ever really asked. People, I had quietly realised a long time previous, do not really give a shit. Most are dying inside, fighting their own malaise, trying to get their lives to have a little more meaning. Most people are only half alive I had told myself. The lights are on, but the soul is not at home. Not that I complained - that's why I felt normal. I was one of them.

But it was after some bullshit from my boss, where the words drowned out, and I couldn't truly take onboard what it was that he was talking about, that I put my hands in my pocket, resigning to watch his lips move a little longer. And it was in my pocket that I felt something - a piece of paper. Openly distracted by it, I took it out. I unfolded it and read the words: What would you do if you weren't afraid?
'What are you doing?' my boss asked.
I looked at him, then I looked at the flyer. 'I quit.'

That's where it started, and then, a week later, I decided to move out of my place. Some people probably thought I was losing my mind, but I know just as many were envious also. I know it, because one of them called me - one of the guys I knew, but we were never that close. He told me he wished me luck, and then asked where I was going. When I told him I didn't know, he wanted to be my friend.

'What would you do if you weren't afraid?' The thought kept running through my head. And when I sold all my furniture, I found new things to answer that question.

I'd like to say it was easy, but it wasn't. It's actually really scary trying to not be afraid. It takes a little getting used to. But as I sit on this beach, in this new place, writing it out, I realise, it was the easiest decision I could ever have made.

There's a lot more for me to do yet, but at least now I can say that the stuff I do now is much more fulfilling that it used to be.
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