I was standing in a large room in a crowd of people. Do not ask me how I got there only accept that I was there and this is what I saw. We were all standing on a large surface. When I looked to my right, the crowd went on as far as I could see. When I looked to my left it was the same and behind me also stretched beyond my line of vision.

In front of everyone was a panel of shadowy figures. These were our judges.   We all watched in silence waiting for the shadows to speak. I sensed that the lives and destinies of everyone in the room relied on what they ruled. I began to tremble as I waited for the verdict that would be ruled by them.

A large voice (yes large was the only way to describe it) called out from the judges, “Every A-type go to the right and every B-type go to the left.” The crowd began to comply with the ruling from the judges moving to the assigned spaces. I felt relieved. It was only to categorize us. Of course this would be simple. I jogged over with my fellow As happy to belong  as we took our places to the right of the Bs.

Once the shift of the crowd was over the large voice (it was truly an immense sound) called out again, “All those who are right-brained come forward, and all those who are left form groups behind them.” Again we complied, this was really easy. People began to talk on the way to their groupings and I found several people whose company I liked. I noticed others becoming more friendly with each other. After all we reasoned we have a few things in common.

The categorizing went on to divide male and female, young and old, differing backgrounds, and future plans. As the groups became smaller my so did my confidence. One thing that troubled me is that I had to say goodbye to several people I had gotten to know because they were not in my assigned “category.” The judges seemed particularly picky about “associating outside the sections.”

The room had another trick which I’m not quite sure how it worked. You would imagine that the room having no more, or less space then at first would be full of little groups of people. Yet what I saw was as each section  got smaller, the farther away from everyone else they seemed.

This had a curious effect on all of us in the bigger groups. We found ourselves pulling away from the smaller groups. We at once realized that to be in a small group was a very bad thing to the judges. This became evident when the first person came to stand alone. He was so far away we could barely hear the conversation he had with the judges.

“You,”  the voice (if it is possible it sounded larger than it did in the beginning) said, “where is your section?”

He looked terrified and began to run towards the crowd to his right.

“No,” they commanded, and he stopped, “You are not an A type. Where is your section?”

He looked near to tears and said in a shaking voice, “I don’t have one.”

“Then you are no one,” the voice said with the power of finality. The power of a judge, “You are alone.”

“I am alone,” he said then dropped to the floor in despair. I couldn’t tell at the distance I was but he appeared to be shaking.

At that point I quickly counted the people in my section and to my relief there were fifty. It wasn’t the biggest section, but fifty must be alright. The dividing of the judges started again. More people stood by themselves and always the verdict was the same, “You are no one . You are alone.” Everyone repeated their verdict as it fell upon them.  Some people wailed in grief as they heard the verdict, others silently took their isolation in despair. I must confess I did not pay so much attention to these people, because my attention was directed to the shrinking size of my section.

Fifty had become thirty-five and then ten. I began to reason with myself that it was alright ten was enough not to be alone. Then ten became five, and then two. I looked to the girl who stayed with me. We were the most important person to the world to each other. I saw the fear in her face and I knew it reflected the expression I wore. I grabbed her hand, “Don’t worry as long as we don’t separate we won’t be alone.” She returned my sentiments. We did not let go of each other’s hand. I felt better, but the judges were not finished.

In the next section what I had dreaded had happened. The section would be dividing me from the other individual who held the key to my identity and hers. In vain we though we could defy the judges, we wouldn’t let go of each other’s hands, but a force that I can explain propelled us apart and I couldn’t see her anymore.

I began to feel my breath leave me as I realized the fate that I had dreaded has come upon me. The room changed and I was standing right before the judges. The voice (which at this point was large and heavy) said, “Where is your section?”

I felt myself say, “I don’t know.” My voice felt like it came from far away.

“Then you are no one,” came the expected verdict.

I trembled and felt the room spin. My mind raced a million thoughts and my breath came in short gasps. I couldn’t speak. “I-I…” I stammered.

“You are no one,” the voice commanded.

Time seemed to pause. The voice repeated itself? Why did it not finish the verdict and be done with me? I stood there confused. This had never happened. I looked up at the judges.

“You are NO ONE!” The voice was impatient.

The truth finally dawned on me. The the only power they had over me was what I admitted out loud. They could not condemn me if I did not accept their verdict. Everyone before me had taken what they said. In fact even the people in groups had consented with their feet. I do not where it came from but at that point I decided, I had enough.

“No,” I shouted back at the judges. My voice which had been small sounded louder, “I am myself!”

“You are alone,” came the voice.

My heart sank. My defiance had no effect on the judges, but I said again for what it was worth, “I am myself!”

“You are alone,” returned the judges, this time their voice sounded like a challenge. I grabbed the thread of hope presented to me and said louder, “I am myself!”

There was silence. The judges seemed to be unable to answer. So I said again, “I am myself!” I felt desperation in my voice, but I would not submit to the verdict and surrender this power I had found. I began to yell, “I am myself,” stamping my foot with each declaration. Then I paused and there was another sound that broke the silence. It was a very small voice, I looked and saw the girl whose hand I had desperately held before.  She too was standing alone facing the judges. She looked over to me briefly and smiled. I wasn’t alone.

She spoke again, “I am myself!”

We alternatively faced the judges and said, “I am myself!” They continued to make no response. Then I heard other voices from the loners began to take up the chant. With each phrase more voices were added. Some people broke from sections shouting, “I am myself!”

They joined us as our chorus grew louder and stronger with each phrase.  We didn’t know why we shouted. We didn’t know how this happened. We only knew that we must shout for the judges to hear.

The chorus of people reached a crescendo. I couldn’t hear my voice in the din of the crowd. Somehow our voices melded to one, and a great number of people began shouting, “I am myself!  I am myself! I am myself!” I thought my eardrums would burst, but I knew my heart would as I felt it pound against my chest.

Then everything  went silent and black.

I woke in a green field beside a lake. Do not ask me how I got there only accept that I was there and this is what I saw. A blue sky was overhead, and I could hear birds singing. A breeze danced across my face and I breathed deep the scent of flowers. I looked to my right and saw the girl who had stood up with me to the judges. We waited awhile not sure how to take the sudden change.  

Finally I said, “You are yourself.”

She smiled and said, “You are yourself.”

“We are ourselves,” we said together and then laughed. It was a laugh of joy and not of humor. We laughed long and hard rejoicing in the freedom from the judges.Tears rolled down our faces as the laughter became louder and freer  We rolled around the grass holding our sides because we could not contain our mirth. When we finally  came to I noticed that everyone else who had stood with us were there.

I looked with joy at those who had come with us. People were laughing and dancing. Some were weeping tears of joy. Other embraced each other. All was light and beauty. We had escaped the darkroom of the judges. “I am myself,’ I thought, “and I am free.”

I am not alone.

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