Out of experience comes understanding. Out of understanding comes a greater experience.
He wanted to. That was all. He wanted to. Did he need a better reason? He didn’t want a better reason. He didn’t think so. So, he didn’t think…
He didn’t want to. While he longed to know what it was like, he didn’t want to know its consequences. He wanted a simulation—life without consequences, only with experiences.
Experiences without consequences don’t make for experience.
A dream of ecstasy. He came and went. Then he returned and returned again. Not physically, but mentally he was present. Oh, how he was present! It was a beautiful, fleeting, lust-filled moment. A moment of unparalleled sequence. A moment that could never be repeated. He never wanted to repeat it, but he wanted more of it.
Aln opened his eyes. He didn’t see much, but his eyes were opened. He wanted to see more, but all he saw was the darkness of night. He saw the dim, lava-colored glow of his alarm clock. It was too close to morning.
‘Alarm clocks are stressful.’
He saw the glow of a street light in glaring stripes through the blinds of his window. Outside, the green of an abandoned soccer field filled his view
‘Soccer…one more part of life I don’t know anything about.’
He heard the start up whirl of a small refrigerator’s generator at the foot of his bunk. He took in the smell of an apartment frequented by a regular influx of college students. It didn’t smell bad—not yet. It smelled used.
‘Used isn’t always bad. It really means that it’s good enough to be around for a little while. Maybe I’m just saying that so I feel like I have something intelligent to say. Probably.’
He was having another one of those nights. Nights were good when they meant relief, sleep. They were bad when they meant thinking, pondering, facing deep reality.
‘I’m really sick of reality. I hate it. I hate that I can’t escape it. Why can’t I just forget reality?’
Maybe that was his problem. He wanted to be free–free from reality, free from consequence—but he knew there was no freedom in what he wanted. He only wanted it because it felt like freedom. It only felt like freedom because it was different from his current prison.
This was definitely a prison. It was engulfing him. He was ready to sell himself. He knew it was a mistake, but he didn’t feel like being strong.
‘It will make sense someday.’
Would it be too late?
Late…2:30 am…it was late! He closed his eyes again, more firmly this time, tried to relax, found relief, and slowly fell to sleep.
Branson was here intentionally, but this had to be an accident. Weren’t all mistakes accidents? He wished that it was so! He couldn’t bear the idea that he may have actually done this by intention. His desires couldn’t have that strong a grip on him, could they? But he was smart enough to know that accidents didn’t happen in complete disconnection from purpose. He had chosen.
It began as normal: come together, get closer, dance, make an exit, complete the sequence, say nice things at the end, get up the next morning, return to life as usual. It should all be guilt free. That’s how he expected it to be. That’s not how it was.
There was guilt here. Deep, unsightly, crippling…crippling guilt consumed him. All that guilt he had never acknowledged before was suffocating him.
But it was almost beautiful. Pain was surprising.
“What’s your name?”
“Never been here before, have you?”
“Can I get you a drink?”
“Have a seat. I’ll be right back.”
‘What are you doing here? This is stupid! No, it’s what I want. I don’t care if it’s stupid anymore—I’m stupid! No you’re not. You know better. Obviously not.’
“Here’s your drink. May I join you?”
“So what do you think of the place?”
“You could say that!” Pause. “So I’m guessing you’re not much for conversation?”
“It depends, I guess. I’m just a little on the fence about being here.”
“I understand, man. I see a lot of that. This is a pretty shallow joint, I’ll admit.”
“So why do you work here?”
“Well, I’m sure it’s not because I’m shallow! That would be too obvious.”
“Well, I’m just saying, you don’t come across that way.”
“Yet here I am, talking up the cute guy.”
“So you think I’m cute, huh?”
“Now look who’s being shallow!”
“So what are you planning to get out of this little…visit of yours?”
“That’s what I’m on the fence about. I mean, why else do people normally come here?”
“Partially, I’m sure. Company all the way back home? Company until both are feeling a little more fulfilled? Company until self-satisfaction has all the cards?”
“Well, it’s all about self-satisfaction from the beginning, isn’t it? I mean, Jesus doesn’t usually hang out here.”
“What would you do if he did?”
“Be really intrigued.”
“So, what now? Am I being shallow enough?”
“I guess so! I almost forgot you were new at this.”
“So, is it time for the next step?”
“Look at this guy! Goodbye fence!”
“Sounds good to me.”
“That’s just because you’ve had enough to drink, but who cares! I get off in twenty.”
“I’m in! Oh yeah, what was your name?”
“My bad…I’m Branson.”
Aln opened his eyes. Dark. No more soccer field. No more counter top fridge.
‘You did it.’
Before the sleep even began to leave his eyes, tears drowned them. It hurt. Pain filled his eyes as reality stung his heart. He really was stupid.
‘I’m all in now. There’s nothing left to hide behind.’
No more shallow. No more casual. No more feigned boldness. He’d finally crossed the line he kept redrawing. And it wasn’t even for love! It was just another prison—just like he knew it would be. He was just weaker, even more pitiful.
Last night he told himself he was strong. Last night he said he was free. Last night he lied.
‘Now I’m just stupid. Selfish and stupid. A selfish, stupid prisoner. Again.’
By now his pillow was soaked. Except that it wasn’t his pillow; this wasn’t his bed. Why was he here?
The body to his left began to stir.
Experience. He had it now.
Aln’s eyes made contact with Branson’s.
Reailty. He never escaped it.
His own regret was mirrored in the eyes of this near stranger.
Love. He didn’t find it.
“I’m sorry I’ve got to go.”
Experience wasn’t worth it.
‘God, forgive me. I need You.’
Across an abandoned soccer field a young man runs. It is dark, but for one street light. No one else is outside tonight, and he likes it that way. At the clumsy direction of his inexperienced feet, a soccer ball bounds across the grass before him. He veers left, then dodges right. The field is empty, but his mind is full.
Questions. Confusion. Frustration. He isn’t sure how to play soccer. He doesn’t know the rules of the game. He doesn’t know the tactics. He only knows that the ball needs to into the goal. He needs to hit the net.
Silently, a bat flaps across the field, fluttering through the still night air. In the distance, a horn is honked, a dog barks, a semi engine moans. These distractions don’t matter. He blocks them out of his focus. He has to hit the net. He maneuvers awkwardly onward toward the net. His foots misses the ball. He kicks it in the wrong direction. That’s okay; he’s learning.
He swings his leg back and narrows his focus even more. Twenty feet away, the net awaits. He swings his leg forward. Twelve feet. Five feet. Into the goal! The net is thrown backward by the force of his kick.
He did it.
The real competition hasn’t come yet. He has a lot to learn, but he did it!
‘That’s what time is for.’
Moment by moment, day by day, he is free to change–free to be the way he was created to be by the perfect One who made him, forgave him, and saved him from his prison. These were the true moments of unparalleled sequence.