This exercise is simple. You’re going to need your imagination, so if you haven’t yet, start loosening those synapses. Breathe steadily, you’re going to need your breath, too. You’re ready, right? You’re ready.
Imagine, for a moment, if you will. Imagine if you don’t already that you have a sibling. Good. Now imagine this sibling, real or other, is older, but not generationally older, more like three years; you went to high school together. Good, very good. Keep imagining. You and your sibling are very close, have developed the kind of unspoken bond psychologists and research institutes spend decades and millions of dollars trying to decode, artists spend their whole lives trying to deconstruct, antipathic and dangerous forces spend untold sums trying to destroy. It’s calling you back. Your interests are virtually identical. Imagine if he hasn’t already that your father has hastened this bond by consciously pushing you two to do virtually everything together and that’s how it winds up, you just fall into this rhythm, barely cognizant until someone brings it up at a party or a family gathering. Imagine your Christmases are usually pleasant because you’re a pleasant person, big smiles, house of sugar. Imagine you like bicycling in the mountains together.
Good. Imagine you and your sibling do all of this, often in full view of your family, then your friends, then friends of friends, then eventually strangers, then a vast faceless mass full of flags and fireworks, then an even more vast practically endless infinite mass of faces you can’t even see, no idea where they are or what they’re doing beyond the vague notion that, most likely, they’re watching you. And you are very good at what you do, your older sibling even says you’re better than they are once and the strangers and vast faceless mass latch onto it, repeat it ad nauseum, believe it to the point that they can’t understand when
you turn out slightly differently. And not just like a few inches taller, which you are. Imagine so many people trading this quotation back and forth for years afterward while you diligently try to live doing what you love. Questions, hesitant answers, unspoken reservations then spoken then outright confusion turned to frustration turned to abandonment. Did they bury you here? Smoke and mirrors. Dad, you say, dad don’t let ‘em put me down, don’t let ‘em turn me around and you’re still in the box, still getting opportunities to go forward because you don’t wanna go back and you’ve been on this road your entire life you can see it, imagine, your entire life you’ve been working toward something and a few years after your older sibling gets to be the best at something, you get to be the best, too. Then you move to the next step and a few years after your older sibling, a few more than everyone was expecting, you get to be the best at that, too. Then, thanks to the most extraordinary confluence of events
there is suddenly nowhere else for your new employer so they turn to you to go and now you are in the final place with your older sibling, who is let’s just go ahead and imagine your brother and is almost universally acknowledged as the very best at this profession, the hobby you turned from fun to work and finally made manifest on, nobody’s gonna push you off track at this point though, nuh uh, how could they, only the best equipment and the finest support staff and look, a bonus, your older brother to give you all the accumulated knowledge and experience he knows so you can do more than just imagine what you’re working with. You can use the bond. You see what they do, what he does? Do that. Imagine doing that, then do that. You can, can’t you?
Sure you can.
Good. Now imagine a global incident of such profound influence that it reaches your very niche profession, sends shockwaves through your support staff and restricts where you can ride your bicycle, who you can see at Christmas, when you can plan your summer holiday. Imagine if you haven’t already lived it that you have no idea what the future holds and that before you even start your first day on the job, your employer says, “Hey, sorry, actually you’re getting a demotion for next year. Thanks for your work.” Imagine that thought festering, that you didn’t even get a chance to prove yourself and that people, maybe your father, maybe your aunt, maybe strangers or the vast faceless mass, people are saying you’re a pawn for your older sibling, older brother rather, just to ensure your employer keeps him around to do right by them. Good people got something to lose and you know you don’t wanna go back and you don’t wanna be this and you didn’t start from nothing but you still you gotta fight to exist and this is where you’re at, rookie teammate second rider support pawn brother other never rival, though, not yet sitting in the blistering heat of your home country’s summer leathers on thinking a lion never needs to tell you it’s a lion and everyone’s saying about you what they said about those who came before you, that’s a valiant flea that dare eat his breakfast on the lip of the lion they’ll say, something will burn, cumulonimbus clouds in ultravivid rainbow colors, eyes steady no crowd senses synapses imagine shhh imagine I can see it right there right in front of me and
Deep breath. Steadily. And imagine when the safety car pulls up, the lights go on overhead, time slows the familiar way and the brain goes off—