Short, therefore, is man’s life and narrow is the corner of the earth wherein he dwells. – Somerset Maugham
I stand at the cusp of 22 and look back at the years that have fled by. I suddenly feel like the man from Caspar Friedrich’s painting the ‘wanderer above the sea of fog’. I understand him now. I am sure I do this time. Four years ago I tried to look through his eyes down into the fog. I was a bored first year law student and had not lost my love for the written word yet. I composed a post on my dreams of being a carefree traveler and posted it on my blog with a picture of the wanderer. I had imagined that he was a vagabond, resting for a brief moment upon a precipice, taking in the slightly obscured magnificence of the distant mountains, and listening to the endless, tireless rendition of the wind's symphony before he continued his walk down the dusty roads. A friend of mine commented that he looked more like a rich nincompoop than a free traveler besieged with wanderlust. But to me he was a hero with his back turned to the world, living a dream out, just like I hoped to someday. I was sure his eyes shone with the glimmer of forbidden cities of gold and the wisdom that only the road teaches. Meanwhile, my road stretched winding with many a detour. Some dreams have faded, some lie as dead as road kill and a few have survived on a barren wasteland that my mind is in danger of becoming. With time and time’s ceaseless conspiracies, my world shrunk in commensurate measure to the shrinking of the frontiers of possibilities that my imagination could conceive. Today I glimpsed the narrow corner that I had created for myself. My corner in a row of cubicles and a pile of taxpayer’s forms, a corner that I jostle for in a crowd of people, elbowing them away from my space. If ever in a surreal dream I stepped into the painting and tapped the shoulder of the wanderer, he would turn his head towards me, and I would see a familiar sight. He would have a mirror in place of a face and I would see the listless visage of one who has wandered about hoping to be swept by the tides of adventure, but instead ended up walking into a corner. The wanderer and I stare into the fog, knowing that there is much that we will never see, know or learn from while trapped in our narrow corners.