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It starts with excess and apathy. I delve in dangerous appetites, a thirst for beer and strong shots. I fall down and pass out, black out, and forget how I woke up on a couch with a shirt smeared with vomit on the spot where I lay on. The second stage is emulation, monkey see, monkey do. If the method worked for him and her, than it must work for you. I fall into trenches and underground pathways dug out by men through ages, traveled by multitudes in different stages, different decades, generations. I dig my head in old books and classical compositions, black and white movies, oil paintings, and philosophical statements. Nothing bears my imprint. I find myself in nothing. Another dead-end, I throw myself to mindless working. Third stage. Welcome to the machine, my son, well oiled with new recruits. They tell me I’ll rise if I have something to prove. Out of the black, into the blue, I work for pigs and liars and people who wear masks, appear like angels to the fruitful, normal to the consumers and devils to the menial. I toil under these men, working for a purpose determined by the superiors of superiors. My life left on random, a default parameter, in tandem with a career I don’t give a damn of. Out with friends on the weekends at pubs watching headlines scroll across the rim of the plasma TV screen, watching time slow down to a lazy crawl, I push against the hands of the clock to make the weekend go on long. Sometimes I roll on the floor and laugh my ass off at how bad things have got. Then lash out at loved ones, get depressed and go out to score smack off a college drop out, down a bottle of hard liquor and pass out, black out, wake up in a pool of vomit and forget how. I remember posters in high school halls saying believe in yourself, a little attitude goes far, a little hard work makes life easier, makes the blind spots and metaphysical riddles disappear, if for so long. How long?

What’s wrong? These dreams become hollow each hour they’re worked on.

Then, my mind lights up with an epiphany.

What if I find myself in a belief? What if our identities are beliefs, reflections uncertain, morphing sporadic in streams of water?

Maybe some delusions are necessary. Maybe some illusions are healthy. Maybe the pure definition of belief requires the believer to take a leap of faith. Maybe believing in something is a skill. Because knowledge is backed by interests with deep pockets carrying torches under banners with names and egos and systems of explanation suited for the ways of power. But a belief is a belief. Something they can’t get at. Something they can’t touch unless you let them. A belief can be changed. A belief is malleable. A belief is the substance in the mind we create with. People take advantage of others with knowledge. People take advantage of themselves with belief. For you can never really know who you are. You can only believe in what you were and what you can be.

By Ashish Seth

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