Manny is in his shrink’s waiting room when he sees that a framed picture has come to life. He tries to ignore it, but the damn thing starts talking and just won’t let up. It tells him that he has accomplished all that he will in life. Upon reflection, Manny realizes that he hasn’t accomplished much of anything.
This saddens him.
A man is nothing without his accomplishments. Family, career, friends, and hobbies are the things that make him. Without accomplishments, a man’s life becomes quiet and empty.
The picture goes on to say that nothing will ever change. It tells him that he is too weak. The picture has a totally different view than that of his shrink. Just last week his shrink told him that he can change anything about his life if he only chooses to try. She told him that he had control of his life, not the other way around. What is this picture talking about? The shrink has degrees hung up on the wall of her office. Doesn’t that mean she knows what she is talking about?
The picture says no. No, that pretentious bitch does not know what she is talking about. In fact, the picture continues, she only tells him that stuff to patronize him. She laughs behind her stoic face. She thinks as little of him as he thinks of himself, the picture says. Why would anyone think otherwise? Manny is a loser. He’s old. He’s done. Nothing can change that.
Manny looks inside his soul. That stupid picture is making a lot of sense. He’s a pretty old guy, after all. He has no close family nor does he have a happy career — more like a really sad job. Hobbies? Yeah right! If only watching reality TV was considered a hobby, then he would be a busy man.
But wait. What about sunshine, and. . .and a child’s laughter? Aren’t those things worth living for?
The picture reminds him of his skin condition and his sterility. Oh, that’s right. But, but, but. . .wasn’t there anything that could be changed?
NO! The picture yells at him. There is nothing! Get over it! Do yourself and humanity a favor and get over it!
Manny starts to cry. The tears are hot and lonesome. There are still ten minutes before his visit with the shrink is scheduled to begin. If he could just hold on. . .
GET OVER IT!!!! YOU! ARE! NOTHING!
Manny cannot take it anymore. He runs out of the waiting room and into the hall. The entrance to the stairwell is right in front of him. He bolts in and goes up, taking the steps two at a time.
The picture is still yelling at him: YOU! ARE! NOTHING! Over and over and over. When he reaches the roof, he runs directly to the ledge. The pain in his heart is too much now. He is nothing. Nothing can change that.
YOU! ARE! NOTHING!
Manny jumps. He falls fast, the wind howling in his ears, and the picture grows silent in the torrent. Finally. Now Manny can think with his own brain.
A thought occurs to him. Maybe he doesn’t have to always watch reality TV. Maybe he can watch the Discovery Channel. He used to love the Discovery Channel when he was a kid. Maybe that balm his dermatologist gave him would work on his skin condition if he actually took it out of the medicine cabinet and tried it. Maybe he could meet a girl and adopt some kids. A lot of kids, even! Maybe he could get a new job, or start his own business! Maybe things can change.
Yes, Manny realizes as he falls. Things could be different if only he tried. He has control of his life, not the other way around.
That stupid picture didn’t know what it was talking about after all!
Everything can change.