High Stakes

Imagine yourself plopped up on your office seat with your elbows leaning on your desk, your fingers punching furiously at the keyboard of your computer, and your eyes squinting at the screen in front of you. There is a mug on the desk, half full with coffee that has now turned cold because it’s been a couple of minutes before you took your last sip. It’s one of those days when your in-tray is overflowing with work, ambition is flowing in your veins, and you, determined to clear that tray, sit through the afternoon, until the golden rays of the gracefully setting sun streak in through the large office window as if to say goodbye, then the dark sets in to keep you company. After a while, silence and solitude follow, as the city quietens down for the night. Soon, the only sound you can hear is that of your fingers hitting the keys as you type away.

Picture yourself zoning out unconsciously, your mind taking you on a trip out of the office, into the street and into your car, then you join the highway, speeding along the highway, taking a left turn here and a right turn there, until you reach the place you call home, then you let yourself in, head straight to the kitchen and pour yourself a cold drink, before collapsing on the couch…

You thoughts are interrupted by the distinct sound of a siren, it’s probably an ambulance speeding through the street outside your office building.

You let your mind drift away again…

This time it takes you to the beach, and you’re lying on your back, a smile on your face and a cold Tusker in your hand, there’s a soft cooling breeze brushing away the frown on your forehead. You sip your beer, sighing as you feel it cooling its way down your throat and into your belly, leaving you buzzed.

You’re immersed in that moment, when you hear a still voice;


Startled, you sit up, noticing your heartbeat peak up a pace or two, and your bladder almost giving way.

‘Who is it?’, you ask, your voice trembling…

Silence ensues. You get up, peep around the room, check under office desks and behind doors.. There seems to be no one. Now you’re starting to feel scared.

‘Don’t be frightened child’, you hear the voice again.

‘Who are you? Are you God?’, you ask hesitantly.

‘What do you think?’, the voice comes again.

‘I really can’t tell, I’ll have to see you first, tell me where you are’, you say, still looking around for a source.

‘I’m everywhere, and I’m nowhere, I just am’.

‘But why can’t I see you then?’ you ask, opening your eyes wide open, trying to peer into the darkness around you.’

‘That’s not how you look for me, I’d show you how to, but not today’.

‘But I have to see you’,

‘Why do you insist on having to see me?’

‘So that I know that you’re real’

‘You think what you see with your eyes is all that is?’

You stay silent, unsure of what to say.

‘I’m here to ask you something’, the voice says once more.

You prime yourself up, holding your breath in sheer anticipation.

‘I’m here to ask you, what are you doing with your life, child?’

‘Umm, I guess I’m just living my life…’, you stutter, quite unsure of your answer.

‘Just. Living. Your. Life’, the voice says with a sigh. ‘You haven’t answered my question.’

‘Well, umm…I guess… it’s been a while since I asked myself that…you know…I don’t have the time these days. I work almost 10 hours every weekday, and when I get home I’m really tired, so I fix a quick meal then sleep because I have to wake up early again the next day. I never really think about what I’m doing with my life.’

‘And weekends?’

‘Weekends I sleep. Maybe once in a while I watch something interesting. Or go out for a drink.’

‘Sounds quite mechanical, don’t you think? What do you hope to achieve?’

‘Well, I figure that if I work hard enough, one day I’ll have lots of money, own acres and acres where I can build a big beautiful house with a swimming pool, a manicured garden where I can have barbecues and drinks with my family and friends’, you say, your eyes lighting up. ‘Oh, one more thing, I’ll travel around the world, around the entire globe, from pole to pole.’

‘When will that be?’

‘One day’, you say with a smile on your face.

‘Why not right now?’

‘Right now I don’t have the money, nor the time.’

‘What’s the money you’re saving in your bank account for?’

‘The money in my bank account is not enough, it’s not’, you mutter, shaking your head vehemently. ‘Plus it’s good to have money in your bank account, you know, anything could happen.’

‘Yes, anything could happen, but how much money is enough money?’

You scratch your head, ‘I guess, when you have enough money, you’ll just feel it…umm… you know the feeling that comes with knowing that you won’t have to work again?’

‘Are you asking me?’

‘No, no, no, I’m just…I’m just saying..you know…I just want to be happy and at peace’

‘I’ve seen people go down that path you’re on. They think that happiness is something that will happen to them one day’.

‘What happened to those people?’

Well, some of them sat in offices working late like you’re doing now, for years, working their asses of, achieving and achieving. But it never felt enough, and they were getting more and more desperate, so they decided to steal from their clients, from the people. In that moment of blind ambition, no one thinks about the consequences. They built big homes like the one you want. Bought big cars, and hid the rest of the money in offshore accounts. 

Then they grew old, and one day they were sitting in their palatial homes, and they looked at everything they had, the expensive cars, jewelry, money in the bank and more in the safe, and they realized they’d been under a spell. They had been addicted to the promise of the future, always postponing any chance to enjoy every moment of their lives. They forgot to live, and to be happy. Do you know how a gambler loses all his money? By believing that the jackpot is only one shot away, that if they tried one more time, they’d win lots of money. So they keep staking their money until there is none left. That’s how most of these people lived their lives. Always chasing something they felt was right before their eyes, that if they made just a little more money, then boom! Everything would fall in place, and they’d be happy. 

‘But it always seems like there is no other choice’, you say, your voice shaking with despair. ‘What should I do?’

‘I’m not here today to tell you what happiness is. But I can tell you that you always have a choice, whatever the circumstance, and in knowing this you realise how powerful you are, child. 

‘What are my choices?’, you ask…


‘Are you still there?’, you ask.

More silence. The voice is gone. And with it, the chance to have your question answered. You remember that you’re still sitting in your office, halfway through your work. You check your watch, it’s a few minutes to 10pm. It’s time to go home.

You pack pack up your stuff into your brief, shut off your computer and as you walk out into the streets, you mutter to yourself, ‘That was quite a dream, wasn’t it?’

Picture Credits: www.pixabay.com













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4 comments On High Stakes

  • Only, it wasn’t a dream. How sad the reality of the life we living now is

  • Only, it wasn’t a dream. How sad the reality of the life we living now is

  • The mechanical cycle of modern life…it is not easy to depart from it without economic security. There’s always a lingering fear of an impending disaster that awaits, that must always be anticipated as you slave away in a life you don’t want to live. You convince yourself that you must do this, every day, in order to survive. You look around and see the jobless youth and count yourself lucky, that at will you can afford a 700bob pizza and a few bottles of beer, and that maybe you can afford your own medical insurance, and this reminds you that what you are doing every boring day isn’t so meaningless after all…but, what can one do?

    • I agree. It seems important to be centered on something greater than yourself, or from that mechanical cycle of modern life. It is not easy to depart from it, but then also it is important not to let yourself get consumed by it.

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