12/27/2011 10:14 am ET | Updated Feb 26, 2012

Were You Hoping for a Miracle?

Did you notice, the day you first stopped counting? The day the numbers stopped making sense? The day you began shoveling dreams, by the armload, into the basement? Hoarded and forgotten like rations in an abandoned fall-out shelter. Languishing in a cobweb's embrace like atrophied artifacts that eventually lose all indication of their former purpose. Relics to be romanticized, instead of being enjoyed at present. These are the days of our lives. This is the year-end review you've been afraid to give yourself.

Later, at the heels of a stiff drink, some of us will fondly remember it as the Domestic Doomsday Equation: (The amount of time we spent barricaded behind a desk for someone else's purpose) plus (The percentage of our waking lives we spent wishing we could be anywhere else at any given moment between the hours of 9 and 5) minus (The number of working hours we spent actually adding some semblance of utility to the world around us) divided by (The frequency with which we hugged the ones we loved). Everyone does the math, few of us can bear to face the figures that trickle forth meekly from the equation's maws.

Waking with a start, you realize you've made a Cosmo Kramer-like entrance onto the set of someone else's life. Welcomed by canned applause and ambiguous laughter that may be directed at, instead of with, you. The shoes you are standing in never felt too big to fill, back when they were stuffed with the expectations of those who thought they knew what was best for you. But now--you watch the talking heads lie themselves into submission. Exhausted and convinced that there is no way for them to go on, but to keep climbing up the wrong ladder. Ahead of you, the one-way street. The traffic signs pointing in the opposite direction. The glare of oncoming headlights. And your foot on the gas. You may ask yourself, "How Did I Get Here?...This is not my beautiful mortgage. Surely, this can't be my blossoming debt and capsizing career path." Your existence, a tawdry Hitchcock imitation; a world where everyone recognizes you on sight, but you have no idea who you really are. Nor do you like the person you have been on the way to becoming.

It's a difficult thing: to go left, when everyone swears you're already in the right. To look away from the mouths of the false promising gift-horses. To climb off the carousel, and lunge head-first for the cliff's edge. This is the way we were, when we were young. Foolhardy, drunk with ambition, and in some ways, smarter then than we are now. We may work tirelessly, with the hope of amassing comforts enough to sleep soundly upon, but the things we have left undone will continue to keep us up at night.

The facade of success. A handsome strangler. The savored swallow of a sweet & slow acting poison. A stranger you once called friend or family, who hardly ever calls you at all. The frustration of knowing that what sounds right on paper is rarely right in application. The endless waiting for the right window to open, as the wrong doors stand agape and inviting. The undotted "i"s. The uncrossed "t"s. & The round-hole you've tried in vain to fit squarely into.

The new beginning is the hard part. But it's also the stuff story-book endings are made of. Spaceship dogfights, knights, dragons and 4th-quarter rallies of legend. The ones that you remember re-enacting in front of the mirror. Few of the people we admire spent their lives toiling soundlessly as spokes in an all-consuming wheel. Even fewer still have managed to shake the world while hidden behind job-made monuments of mindless paper-work. At some point or the other, a spark will burn in all of us. You can choose to follow the beckoning light into the distance, or you can continue to live under the status quo as the fire inside you fades. They aren't easy ones to make, but these are the choices we have been presented with.

Where happiness is concerned, there is no blueprint. There are no rules that won't break. The blind lead the blind, and disingenuously offer condolences when the unwitting find themselves led astray. So in your own shoes, you will make your own road. Because only you will have to walk on it. Because being taught how to be somebody, is a sure-fire way to become somebody else. Because the doors will only open if you make them. Oh. Were you hoping for a miracle?...Hoping won't quite be enough.

Credits: Photography - Carmen Chan aka "How I Met Your Style" x Locale - DUMBO, NYC