It had been a soul-crushing sort of day. The type of day that makes you question why you continue pursuing your dreams…and not only question but totally reject even the thought of getting back up and trying again.
The sky opened up as I was walking home and I entered my house drenched. Too tired to care, I stepped inside the house with my muddy boots, not worrying about the footprints they left on the kitchen floor. I immediately stopped. There was a woman sitting at my kitchen table.
She was elegant, wearing a long dress and a lace mantle around her shoulders. Her hair was swept up into an old-fashioned hairstyle and pinned with an ornate gold pin. She didn’t smile as I entered.
“Who are you?” I asked, surprised and a little frightened. She didn’t look very friendly.
“Don’t worry about that.” She looked at me intently. “Winter, I know you’re struggling.” She laid her palms flat on the table. “And I’m here because I have an offer for you. And it may be appealing to you. Would you care to hear it?” She looked up at me. Her gaze was intense and I looked away from her. She made me nervous.
I shrugged. She had gotten right to the point. “Umm, I guess it wouldn’t hurt.”
“What if I could give you an answer to the question on your mind right now? Not a complex answer, but a yes or a no? And you could finally rest easy knowing the right decision had been made? I know you’re confused…”
I took a step closer, the question that had been playing at my mind all day immediately surfacing. “Well, how would you do that?
She spread her hands apart on the table, revealing a strange, flat wheel. It had a metallic sheen to it, that caught the light as you looked at it. All around the edges were lights, flickering and dimming and illuminating the words that lined the edges. Only two words. Yes and No, alternating around the whole edge of the wheel. In the center was a golden hand, spinning slowly. She nodded towards the wheel and motioned for me to sit down.
I sat down across from her, unable to take my eyes from the spinning wheel. “Ask the question.” She murmured. “Say it out loud. The wheel will hear you, and it will answer.”
I looked at her, and then back at the wheel. I would have felt a little silly in any other circumstance, but I knew that she was telling the truth. I took in a deep breath, and asked my question. “Should I continue pursuing my dreams?”
The golden hand begin to spin. It was instant, as though it had been waiting for that very question. Faster and faster it spun. Then it began to slow. Slower and slower. Until it stopped…and landed on “No.” I read the word, not believing it for a second. It had landed on No. That was not what I had been expecting.
“Well, there you have it.” The woman smiled and stood up. “You have your answer.” I stared at that word, at the glittering letters, flickering in that odd light. I slowly nodded. “Yeah, I guess I do.” I paused for a moment, allowing my eyes to focus on that word. No. Two simple letters. Yet so much meaning. “Thank you.” I finally said. “For helping me.”
“I’m glad I was able to be of assistance.” She nodded at me and was gone.
I made dinner that evening, and felt a weight lifted from my shoulders. I had made the decision. And my life would be easier for it. I pushed the whole memory from my mind and enjoyed the evening. After dinner I went upstairs to get ready for bed. I was very tired and ready to go to sleep early. I wouldn’t need to write tonight, after all. The wheel had told me no. I looked over at my computer sitting on the desk in the corner, but I didn’t turn it on.
My eyes moved over to my notebooks, filled with sketches and ideas, scrawled in so much haste they were barely legible. What was this now? Was it all a graveyard? I sat down on the bed and looked at it, and a wave of immense sadness washed over me. I felt loss. How could this all really be over?
“What are you thinking, Winter?” The woman asked me. She was standing beside the computer now, staring at me. “You received your answer, you know. You should be happy. Your life is easier now. Now there’s no more pain.”
I nodded. She was right, I had received my answer. Shouldn’t I be happy with that? Except… that she was wrong. There was still pain. And worse. A different sort of pain this time. “I know what the wheel said…” I began. “It said that I should quit.” I looked back up at her. She was staring at me, her face expressionless. “But don’t want to.” I whispered. “I know what it’s supposed to mean, and I know that I asked. That I wanted for things to become clear to me. That I wanted someone to just tell me. Yes or no. But now that the answer came back, it’s not the one I wanted.”
She looked at me. We stared at each other for a long while. She finally broke the silence. “Then you already know.” She lifted the wheel, and I was surprised to see that the hand had stopped spinning. It now stood motionless. “The wheel is nothing but a symbol. It told you no. But you told it yes. Now, when the world tells you no, how will you react? Will you listen? Will you let it make the choice for you? Or will you look at your work, at this computer, at these things that mean so much to you, and tell it no back? Only you can make that choice.”
That night I wrote again. And it felt good to try, and even if it wasn’t perfect, it felt like the right choice. At least it wasn’t a no.
How is the choice to keep pursuing a dream any different than that wheel? I wanted in a way to believe what it told me. On some levels it would have been much easier to believe that some force outside of my control had taken the decision out of my hands. But when it came to make the choice myself, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t quit on it. Because deep down, I didn’t want to. I’ve been in this place many times. With a dream clinging on for life, with a tenuous grasp at best. Sometimes I don’t know what keeps me going. Perhaps it’s the knowledge that this moment could be the one that I finally do something different. That maybe something can change. I believe in the future. I believe in the power of dreams. And I never want to be the one to tell them no.