THE BOY/MAN IN THE MIRROR

Alan Levy was working with his Dad on the family farm. He had been in the hay mow throwing bails as they came off the elevator, it was dusty, dry and very hot and he wouldn’t have had it any other way.

As soon as the wagon left to pick up another load of hay, Alan who was thirteen years old climbed down from the mow and ran to his Dad’s office which was located in a construction trailer on the property.

He ran in to the adjacent washroom, peed his brains out and went to the wash basin and washed his hands, he looked up at the mirror over the sink. It showed his boyish reflection. He had more freckles than he could count. He took a couple of seconds studying himself before asking the question ’Where will I be in ten years when I’ll be twenty three? Where is life going to take me?’’

Alan’s current life was splendorous. He had loving parents, incredible siblings, amazing Aunts and Uncles and very close cousins. He had really good friends and he was a genuinely happy guy. But what would life be like in the future?

At twenty-three Alan had a completely different life. He had graduated University with an Honours degree in Mass Communications, and had accepted a job with a major Toronto newspaper. He had also fallen in love. His girlfriend was amazing, but when she demanded he propose marriage, he knew he just wasn’t ready.

Alan lived in downtown Toronto and loved the hustle and the bustle of the city, but he still escaped to his parent’s place on a very regular basis.. He loved the farm and would go back to help whenever he could. On his twenty third Birthday Alan went back to his Father’s office and washroom and once more looked at himself in the mirror. He had changed physically and most of his freckles were gone, but he was still loving every second of life. He played mirror mirror on the wall and asked himself the magical question, where will I be in in ten years? As he left the bathroom, he couldn’t help but think that time was flying by faster than he could have ever imagined.

On his thirty-third Birthday Alan couldn’t help but think the only gift he wanted was to get out to his Dad’s office and head to the washroom. It was strange but he wanted to study himself and think about his progress. He had bought a two-bedroom condo in midtown Toronto, he was the Editor at the Sport’s desk of Toronto’s most popular newspaper, he had a beautiful girlfriend and he was happy. When he got to the office, he was by himself and he turned on the lights and just looked at his reflection. The previous ten years had been really wonderful, better than he could have expected. He had packed in a lot of things and he was looking forward to the next ten years with great anticipation. As he caught a reflection of himself in the mirror as he was leaving his main thought was ‘’Right on track.’’

When Alan faced the mirror on his forty third birthday, things had changed dramatically. The woman he had been with for five years and was madly in love with, had decided that she wanted to travel and write books. He had proposed but she didn’t want to get married and the relationship ended as she headed out for Bangkok and he stayed in Toronto.

Work was not much fun as there had been a corporate takeover at his newspaper and costs were being cut everywhere. He accepted the buy out package that was offered to long-serving employees. Finding a new job at a newspaper in the digital age was not an easy task. In the meantime, he had mortgage payments every month. The pressure was intense.

When he went back to his Dad’s office, and once more stared at his reflection in the mirror all he could think was the last ten years had not been as enjoyable as the previous decade. He was grateful his parents were okay, but he felt like his life was in flux. He was only forty three but there was a feeling of being lost. He knew the decade had been tough, but he was worried about the future. As he left the washroom and the mirror he made a mental note to chill, because worry lines were starting to show prominently on his face.

On Alan’s fifty-third Birthday he almost ran to the bathroom that housed the infamous mirror beside his Dad’s office. It had been his toughest decade. His Father was now on dialysis, which meant every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning Alan drove his Dad and picked him up from the dialysis centre. It was four hours a session and Alan’s Dad never complained even though Alan knew how uncomfortable the situation was for him. It hurt him to see his Dad so vulnerable.

The Bank had demanded a two million dollar line of credit that was on the farm be paid back immediately. They pounced as soon as they heard that Alan’s Dad was on dialysis. Alan spent most of his days trying to hold things together. He didn’t want to change his parent’s quality of life and he didn’t want the Bank to commence legal action against them.

Alan dated when he could but had zero luck finding true love. He thanked Gd for letting him spend a ton of time with his parents but his life was going in a direction he hadn’t expected. He worked as much as he could on the farm, while trying to make intelligent investments and keeping the bank off their backs.

When he looked in the mirror he had to ask himself how he had reached fifty-three without attaining so many of his goals. He hoped the next ten years would be better. That good things would happen for his parents, and he would get back on the right track. Life was going fast and he would label the last decade as one of pure frustration.

Alan looked in the mirror one last time when he celebrated his sixty-third Birthday. It had been hard but he somehow kept strong even though he had lost both his parents. They had both passed in the same year and the emptiness he felt was horrendous. His parents must have decided to help him out from above as they sent him a spectacular woman. Together they bought a stunning new house in the country and even though he had a hole in his heart from their passing, he had a soulmate who supported him in every way possible.

Alan had no choice, he sold the farm and paid off the bank. He was finally free from litigious lawyers and a horrible bank. It had taken a toll negotiating a settlement, but everything was resolved. As he looked at the mirror one last time, he realized he was a changed person from that little thirteen year old boy who had first looked at his reflection all those years ago. That boy who was filled with wonderment and excitement about the future.

He had grown up and the reflections that he saw were about the decades of his life. Now that the farm was sold he would no longer rush to the washroom to look at himself. He no longer owned the washroom, but he gently took the mirror off the wall, that would be coming with him. It would serve as a reminder of the past, his parents, his journey. It would remind him of the magic of the farm and the passing of time. It would no longer be about thinking about the future when he looked into it, it would be about remembering his past and being appreciative. As long as he could still look at his reflection, he knew he could still dream about good things for the future.

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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