May 18, 2023

The museum of almosts

In the heart of a bustling city, hidden amidst the hustle and bustle, there stood a peculiar building known as "The Museum of Almosts." 

Its walls held stories of dreams that were almost realized, hopes that were almost fulfilled, and paths that were almost taken. 

People often visited the museum to reflect upon the roads they didn't traverse,  dream about the choices they could not make. And then a part of them would always stayed behind, turning into yet another artifact for the others who visited to witness and behold. 

Such was the museum of almosts. It was always almost there, and sometimes it wasn’t.  

Nobody had told Aanya about the museum. She was on her way to work when she spotted it one day. 

“Strange,” she thought. “I take this route every day but I don’t remember seeing this here.” 

As if magically, she found her feet drawn by an inexplicable force towards the building. She gazed up at its grand facade, its windows sparkling with the sunlight, as if inviting her to step inside and confront her own "almosts." 

She hesitated, unsure of what she might find within those walls. Was the summer heat causing her to have hallucinations, or was it the whispers of her own heart that had led her here? 

Aanya had always been pragmatic, never allowing herself the luxury of regrets. Life had forced her to make tough decisions, and she had forged ahead with determination. But lately, a sense of emptiness had seeped into her being. It gnawed at her, challenging the certainty of her chosen paths. She wondered if the relentless pursuit of her goals had left her with a void, a sense of longing for the roads not taken.

Growing up, Aanya had been a meticulous planner. Each year, she would fill her personal diary with carefully crafted to-do lists. From graduating in engineering by 23 to landing a job at a multinational company, her ambitions were neatly mapped out. Marriage, children, and even becoming the CEO of her own startup were all part of her grand plan.

She had almost achieved everything on her list, but now, a strange wistfulness washed over her. The goals she had  pursued suddenly felt incomplete, mere "almosts" on her journey. 

Standing before the museum, Aanya  wondered if there was more to life than just ticking off boxes. Summoning her courage, she stepped inside. 

The museum was a labyrinth of rooms, each filled with artifacts symbolizing the moments of almosts. It welcomed her with soft lighting and hushed murmurs. As she wandered through the exhibits, she noticed artifacts that spoke of unfulfilled aspirations and missed opportunities. 

Each display held a story, a tale of an almost that had remained just out of reach. Each spoke of the wisdom gained from near-misses, the lessons taught by the paths not taken. In one room, she saw a painting with brushstrokes that fell just short of perfection. In another, a collection of manuscripts waiting to be published.

As she explored, Aanya encountered others who, like her, were grappling with their own "almosts." Their stories echoed through the halls, mingling with a shared longing and a search for fulfillment.

However, amidst the poignant displays, she discovered a glimmer of hope. She realized that life was not about reaching a predefined destination or achieving all the goals on a list. It was, she understood, more about finding entirety and contentment in each of her "almosts."

Aanya stepped out of the museum with a newfound perspective. She would embrace the beauty of the unfinished, the magic of the journey itself. Instead of dwelling on what could have been, she would savor each step she had taken and every choice she had made.

On her way home, Aanya looked out of her car window. This time, the weather and the susurration of trees no longer carried nostalgia or regret. They whispered possibilities, reminding her to embrace the wonders of the present. They urged her to find joy in the journey of her own beautifully imperfect, ever-evolving life. 

Her happiness would no longer be defined by the checkboxes on her to-do list, she decided. She would find fulfillment in the entirety of her  almosts, while leaving room for the spontaneity of the unknown. She would cherish the beauty of the journey. 

As she turned to catch a final glimpse of the museum through the speeding car window, she saw it fading away in the sunlight.  

Its purpose had been served for now. 

©️ Priyanka Naik

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