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Growing up is like going to a bad play. At first you’re excited. The playbill is crisp, clear and intriguing. Already you love the beautiful protagonist and you abhor the leering face of the villain shrouded in black. Your mind tells you that the villain will be defeated and the good guy will win like always. With the lights shining and your parents holding your hand what could go wrong? The chatter of the crowd is white noise and no one voice is distinguishable. It is calm and exciting all at once. You wait anxiously for the curtains to open and the beautiful drama to unfold. You want to see the prince marry the princess and live happily ever after while the criminal receives retribution. The lights dim and the voices soften.
Everything is thrown into a weird light that casts monstrous shadows on the walls. As the voices quiet, individual sounds are distinguishable, the gears grinding as the curtains are pulled aside, the crying baby that woke up from its nap, the footsteps of the late comers and the scrape of the door as people pass in and out. The play begins and the stage is dark, everything is misshapen and jumbled. The plot isn’t clear and you can make no predictions. As the story unfolds you are no longer sure who the hero is. Most of the play is dull and confusing; the moments of happiness are fleeting. You hear kids complaining and their parents telling them to be quiet. Occasionally, the cell phones of busy adults go off and they rudely answer.
You turn to ask your parents a question but their faces are cloaked in darkness and you shy away. You feel alone and lost. Looking away from the play is just as terrifying as watching it. You have no safe place and you don’t know what to do.
When you look back, the play is as unclear as ever, with the crowd punishing who you had believed to be the only decent character. It doesn’t seem right; it doesn’t seem fair, but there is nothing you can do. You have to accept the cruelty of the playwright and accept the character’s fate. You eventually become numb to the injustice and watch the rest of the play disinterestedly. There is no one to care about and sympathize with anymore as all have committed horrendous crimes.
A blinding light sears your eyes as somebody leaves the theater. Someone who couldn’t handle the confusion or maybe someone who just had the willpower to leave because they know it’s not worth their time to attempt to make sense of the twisted plot. They will remain forever ignorant of the ending but they don’t care as they can see that it is doomed to be as horrific as the rest of the play. You think about following them outside where you know you’ll be happy but you can’t. As horrifying and dreary as the play is you are mesmerized, held in your seat by some incredible force.
Eventually, the play ends. The curtains close and the lights come on. Everyone around you has the same empty glazed look in their eyes. They, like you, have accepted the ending. They, like you, know the horrors the play held. Now it’s all over. No longer can you see the poster for the play and be filled with excitement because now you know it’s not all about the victory of good over evil. You know it’s not about the prince and princess living an enchanted life of love. You know what it is not but you don’t know what it is. You couldn’t find the meaning, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one. You couldn’t find the good and bad, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there. You weren’t sure what was happening, but that doesn’t mean nothing happened.
You walk out of the theater, your blissful ignorance gone.