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The world is slowly fading away; little by little, you are losing everything that you are. The void keeps on growing, swallowing memories, dreams, feelings.  Can you see what you are turning into? Do you understand where it all leads? Or just pretend it's all fine? That somehow it will all be alright.  Playing the game, chasing love, money, recognition. Yet knowing deep inside that even if you get all these things you are after, it will change nothing; the ever-expanding emptiness inside you will persist.  

But isn't it just the way life goes? Isn't this what getting older means?  No! It doesn't have to be like this. There is a way to get it all back, the dreams, the feelings, all the light that you lost.

It's a ritual,  a bargain of a sort. But a fair one.  I don't try to deceive you. I only wish to help.

The first thing you need to know is that all that you lost, all the pieces of yourself that were stripped away in the passing years; it all still exists. He is a hoarder, he never throws anything away, and he always has room for more. The second thing to remember is that you are full of light. No matter how jaded or broken you might feel,  there is still so much light left in you; never forget it.  The final thing to remember is that this is a trade and every trade requires trust. Don't let your doubts get the best of you. Just believe, and it will be worth it.

At this point, you might think that this is not for me, that life is full and happy enough as they are. That's ok. Leave this for now, but keep it in your memory. Let time do its thing, and when the emptiness will be unbearable and life seems bleak and hopeless, remember this. It will always be waiting for you.

Now, if you are ready, let's begin: The first thing you need to do is to close your eyes and look inside yourself. At first, you might see nothing but darkness. Look closer, think of the things you love, the things that bring you joy, that touched your life in some special way, memories of an old lover, sunset over the ocean, or the music of your favorite band. Anything that makes you happy or has a deep meaning for you will do. Imagine these things,  each as the light that shines inside you. Soon you will start to see points of light appearing in the dark, like stars in the night sky. Now reach out and pick one of these lights, feel it, cherish the joy it brings to your life.

The next part is a little tricky, so listen carefully.  Any physical things that connect you to this light must be destroyed. Now don't go crazy on this one. You don't need to run over your favorite band, kill your ex-lover or destroy sunsets. All you need to do is to destroy every physical evidence that connects you to it.   Anything that can serve as proof that it ever touched your life must go. Pictures, text,  recording, any souvenir, whether physical or digital, must be purged. There must be nothing left binding it to you. Nothing but feeling and memories.

Now for the final part, get yourself a bottle of alcohol (whiskey is fine) and a glass.  Cut a small piece of your hair, and burn it. If it doesn't catch fire at first, it must be a little moist. Drying it for a few minutes in the microwave or oven should solve it. Once it is burned, take some of the ash and scatter it in the glass, not too much, you don't want to chuck yourself. You only want the faint taste of ash in your drink. It's a symbolic gesture, but it's important. Pour the alcohol into the glass and wait until nightfall. Close the windows and make sure that no light enters the room. Complete darkness is essential. He doesn't like light. Now take the glass you prepared earlier, shake it, and drink. Feel the taste of ash on your mouth.  Think about the light you choose, feel it, remember what it means to you. He must know it has value; otherwise, he will not trade. When you are ready, go to sleep.

You will wake up in the darkness, with a strong feeling of being watched. Don't be scared, just let your eyes adjust, and you will start to see a faint glow. You might wonder where it comes from. The glow comes from you. I told you before, you are full of light. Look carefully into the darkness, and after a while, you will see his silhouette, the bent man. There is no need to talk; he will not reply anyway. Once you see him, he will start walking away. Follow him. It might seem like he is getting away, but don't worry; he wants you to follow and will not let you lose him. You will not be able to see much of the way, only silhouettes and shadows.  Some will look like twisted trees, and it might seem like you are walking in some dead forest, but soon you will see other silhouettes that look like broken walls and buildings, and it might feel like you are traveling through some ancient ruins.

After a while, you will notice some of the shadows are moving. Then you will see them. Some are crawling, some kneeling, some limping, some just standing. If you talk to them, they will not answer. If you try to get closer, they will move away. No matter how much you stare at them, you will never manage to see their features, only silhouettes against the night. But if you look long enough, your eyes might start playing tricks on you, and you will start seeing yourself in them. Ignore it. They are nothing like you. They have no light left in them. They have nothing to give. Don't waste your time staring at shadows. There is so much light head, and when you reach it, you will curse yourself for every moment you wasted. Just follow the men.

As you get farther, the darkness will grow thicker, and you will feel your light growing dimmer. You might start feeling despair taking over you and doubt all the things that brought you here. Don't succumb to these feelings; the deal has already been made. There is no turning back. This is the hardest part, just believe, keep telling yourself it will all be worth it. It will. Don't think. Just push forward, force yourself to keep walking. Near the end, the darkness will be so thick that the man will disappear completely. Don't panic, listen and you can hear his footsteps, follow the sound. You are nearly there.

And then a squeak, a door is opening, a crack of light expanding, and you will see it. All that you lost, all the light that was taken from you will shine in you once more. All your dreams and feelings that you could barely even be remembered will again be a part of you. The emptiness is gone. All the missing pieces are in place. You will be a child again, innocent, happy, and free. There is no word for me to describe it. You will laugh at any doubt you had before. You only have until sunrise, but when you are there, every moment is like an eternity.

In the end, you will hear the squeak, the door is closing, and you are left outside in the darkness.  All that you found will be taken away from you,  and something more.

The bargain is complete.

You will wake in your bed, and this will all feel like a fantastic dream, but you will know it was real, that you have touched something pure, something perfect, and wonder how you could have lived without it. Hold on to this feeling as much as you can. But in the days to come, the memory will start fading, and the darkness will creep back in, even stronger than before. It's natural; this is what this world does. You cannot hold to the light. Everything good is momentary. Everything pure must fade. It will be hard at first when you remember what you left beyond. It will be impossible to pretend that everything is just fine. You might feel there is less in life, less in you than ever before, and the emptiness will be unbearable. But it's different now. You know it exists,  and you know how to get back to it, and you can do it again and again. You still have so much to give.