My tuxedo cat lay on the couch, his nose buried in the embracing and welcoming fleece of a blanket adorned with pictures. What dreams bid him hello I can’t fathom. I stopped writing for a few seconds and looked outside. The sky concealed itself with the overcast moisture of a cold February day, the hills to the east and north shrouded in silvery-white mist. Though it may sound strange, a brief urge to run outside and lie down against the numbing cold of the concrete overtook me. Not too far away, a passing garbage truck echoed between the nondescript houses, its scrambling workers continuously emptying the mass of our discarded lives into the metal coffin to be compressed into a lesser burden. I could sense the workers’ haste as their day shortened in front of them. Would they hasten as enthusiastically if they could see the measured minutes in front of them? Earlier today, I read of a life lost at 24,883 days; my life had only briefly intersected with hers. I imagined I could hear the burdensome regrets of those left behind. Each of their clocks had suddenly reset by their friend’s unannounced exit. I couldn’t help but feel a bit of relief to know that the tide had rolled into another’s life today. Not because I’m found more worthy. Not because the rhyme and reason of it all are even discernible to me. I looked away from the windows and back toward the limitless content of the internet. A friend had shared a precious and profane sliver of her life, one artfully disguised as a story. In it, I recognized the universality of both promise and pain. That equation can never find balance. Despite the words of the wise and the protestations of many, we are swimming in a zero-sum game, precisely because we fool ourselves into thinking we are living outside the reach of the confines of our own minds. I took the last sip of bitter coffee from my cup and turned back toward the distractions and wondered what surprises might yet greet me. Be of good cheer; all else is dark folly.