[3] Red

Red. More than a Flashing Light.

Red is an interesting colour. One of the primary colours. The start of the RGB colour sequence. And many connotations that stem from millions of causes. Not to over-summarise, but red is often a colour of warning. A colour of “hold back” or “stop”. Well I guess on that pretence you could call this an ironic chapter to the Story of Colour. Ironic in that way that there really was no way I could stop now. After just a glimpse of purpose and destiny that I’d gained from finding a self-employment career, there wasn’t much that could stand in my way. My job focused on colour and emotion, which often brought back moments in my past or incidences that were soon to occur. There was no logic as to how it worked, no understanding to me as to how I understood moments from the future. Nor was there revelation as to how seemingly normal events in my past started to gain purpose and answers from the events that were occuring in present day.

The biggest mystery of all was how everything seemed somewhat overshadowed by the labyrinth I was walking around and the beast that seemed to throw these events to me. The last thing I wrote was the red smoke. The minotaur-looking beast threw the vial of red smoke to the ground. At the risk of it sounding like a fairy-tale, a small poof noise soon turned into a wall of what felt like memories. As I held my breath and ran towards the beast through the smoke, I found myself sitting in a court room. Odd.

Even more strangely, I knew how I’d got here. It was like I had literally been taken to this event and all the memories and events that had directed me to this moment had been added. In my head. To explain what was truly happening, I’d have to explain all the new memories I’d just received. And that takes me back to the start. Of my business that is.

When kicking off a business, one often encounters problems and uphill struggles. I can’t deny that I had a few, but the starting days of my business were happy, exciting moments that seemed to have millions of potential outcomes. That’s probably partly what kept me going during the few down times. But through all the jobs that I was getting, they all seemed to fit nicely into a process. A process to which I was starting to get accustomed to. Get an email, ring up the client, do the work, invoice them, celebrate. The first one to break to normality was one for a joint church event. One that was to set the scene for culture and vibrance in our city, working in collaboration with the council.

There was no question that this reality was slightly unnerving. On the one hand, I seemed to have the knowledge that this was all a dream – on the other, it felt as real as the day is right now. Putting that aside, I had to focus on the matter in hand.

I imagine anyone would feel the same way that I felt after being invited to a meeting at the Town Hall. Certain levels of excitement along with the slight unknown of how to act once there. Funnily enough, my wife was represented there too on another credential, so we were able to attend together. This made things slightly more at ease for me. She could do all the talking. The inner depths of the Town Hall were elaborate to say the least. Golden-framed portraits stretching from head-height to the the top of what were notably large ceilings. Rich racing green walls complimented with dark mahogany wood and furniture. Not to mention sparkling water, tea cakes and cupcakes. It truly was an elaborate tea-party.

I found myself surrounded by potential city-changing people who knew far more than me in so many ways! It could have been this inferiority that stopped me from diving into the social environment. Perhaps I was scared of what people would think of me. Perhaps it was just my lack of experience with conversations with new people. I wasn’t sure. But either way – the result was I found it hard to interact with people for a decent length of time. The people there were awesome people with stories of their own to tell. But it was then that the purpose of this scenario became apparent to me. At that exact moment, the mayor started to usher people into an even bigger room which looked like a court room.

The courtroom filled up fast and we were able to get seats somewhere close to the front of the action. They went on to discuss what was happening with new project. I was designing the website – which had little to do with the planning stages and background details – so it was all new information to me. I listened intently. Except the harder I tried to listen, the more my recent revelation niggeled me. The revelation took the form of a sudden understanding on exactly what that red vial of smoke was. It was a weakness that the beast (from the labyrinth) had picked up on and was now extorting. Questions were flying through my mind a quadrillion-zillion miles an hour.

Was I really in this courtroom? Was this reality? What is reality? Am I still fighting this minotaur-looking beast? If so how do I beat it and get back to the labyrinth?

It was certainly obvious to me that there was a particular personal weakness I was feeling more than any other emotion or musing. The area of my social inactivity. I was never know for initiating conversation and was on a slow learning curve on how to maintain conversation. I knew that this feeling was real. I had that normally. Perhaps this was reality.

I grabbed my phone from my pocket and typed a question in the text function. I showed it to Becky, who looked at me like I was crazy – which to be fair, could be true. The text read “Who was the second American president?” I can explain this:

I needed to find something that Becky would know and I wouldn’t have any idea. I knew Becky had been educated with an American curriculum. I, on the other hand, was educated in the everyday English curriculum – which doesn’t teach the lineage of American Presidents. The Americans, however, were hot on it. So I figured that if she knew the answer to this question, and it sort of made sense to me, then when (and if) I ever woke up from this “dream” I would be able to tell what was and what wasn’t reality. Not fail-safe and not a completely solid theory, but one I would adopt in this particular scenario. In my eyes, reality or not, this was war with the beast. Wherever that beast was. My logic-of-the-moment wasn’t terrible and Becky shrugged and whispered something in my ear.

The trouble was immediately illustrated by my lack of knowledge of American history. Did John Adams sounds like an American president? As old as (insert the date of the second American president). While it posed a small debate in my head, something snapped. I was fed up with the constant back and forth debating over reality or not reality. What was the worst that could happen here?

I stood up. In front of peers and superiors in all of my skills and gifting. Everyone stopped talking and all faces were aimed at my suddenly-bold stance in an extremely unnerving position. I opened my mouth to speak with such confidence that what I was going to say would beat my enemy of social fear. At that exact moment everything stopped. I don’t mean silence, I mean the room faded to black and the people disappeared. I looked around the darkened, empty courtroom and caught a glimpse of the minotaur-looking beast. With a swift jump over the green leather chairs I leapt towards the beast.

As I neared him, he ran off into the darkness – but a smaller, more inferior version of himself was somehow left in the place he stood. This red raptor-looking beast took a battle stance and clearly wanted a fight.

The frustration of me not catching up with the first beast earlier had been annoying me ever since our last meeting, so a chance to fight this beast only made the opportunity even more exciting. I was ready for this battle. Unfortunately his stance wasn’t one of the general scrapping that I was used to. He wanted to play Karate-Style.

Having not seen the recently released Karate Kid or listening to one of my more martial-arty-trained friends, I had zero clue as to how to play fair with this dragony beast. So I did what any angered guy would do in a dark room with no other options and an uneven opponent. I dived at him and rugby tackled him to the ground. After a bit of a hustle, I was able to pin the beast securely to the ground. I enjoyed the casual fighting. Primarily because he wasn’t expecting an unorganised (non martial-arty) fight. As a result, I seemed to have the situation under control. I pounded the beast while he was down until he looked unconscious. I stood up and looked around. When I looked back where the red beast lay and all that was left was a poof of red smoke. I blew away the rich red smoke and looked around. The environment had changed again. This time, back to the labyrinth. Being back in the minotaur-infested maze made me realise that this felt like less of a reality than the courtroom.

My head was buzzing but as it slowed down from overdrive I was suddenly aware of what was happening. The labyrinth was a vision of who and what I was. The poofs of coloured smoke took me to places both past and present that had involved challenges and victories in my life. And the beast was made up of all those problems and circumstances that I faced. I knew the red had represented social issues and I knew there was more of a journey to enbark upon. I wasn’t healed of the way I felt and I wasn’t suddenly made normal, but somehow the future memory had enabled me to fully understand I could beat it. More than beat it, I could destroy it. I was ready for the next challenge.

As I pushed through the darkness, turning a few corners and making a few snap choices on the direction to take, I started to pick up speed. This particular time, the labyrinth didn’t seem so daunting. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to get through the corridors. I took a look behind me to make sure a beast wasn’t chasing me or something stupid like that. They weren’t. Which was fortunate. But as I turned back to face front a slammed into a scaly skin that I presumed was the minotaur. I couldn’t tell because I was on the ground unconscious before I could even evaluate what had just happened. And when I awoke, I was back in the virtual-yet-seemingly real world. Another tale awaited me with perhaps another monster to battle.

Looking back now, it was clear that this was the start of something. Little battles. There was no doubt this particular journey wasn;t just one that would create memories. But that it would be one that would remove the parts of me that hindered me. Did I still have social-interaction issues. Sure. But I knew that through the Red battle, there wasn’t much that I wasn’t able to defeat. It was all about the decision to do it.

Talk about an Aesop fable eh? Things weren’t about to get any simpler for me though. And as I recall, the next chapter of my journey would change the way I’d act forever.