I rearranged the office furniture last week, to make my surroundings simpler and let in more light.

I was rearranging the furniture in my mind, too — straightening the crooked pictures, regarding the tattered beliefs that once fit in but now just blocked the light.

There are so many rooms in me, so much light and fear. So much superstitious awe of the incomplete images my mind insists are real. My preposterous old furniture: a chair, shaped like a woman, that welcomes me with a water touch, one arm ice and one arm steam, and I can’t get up and I can’t drown; a file cabinet, bulging with old stories and completed mysteries and riddles with their answers, and a lock that calls, that yearns, for a heart-shaped key.

There is a small room, hardly a room, more like a closet, more like a darkened cave, more like sleep itself, where I sit and contemplate my house of many rooms, my beliefs. In my mind, I change things. And things change. The furniture I thought was too heavy to move, too preposterous to admit I owned, becomes light.

“Is everything then a paradox?” the frustrated student asks the teacher. “Yes, and no,” the teacher says.

When I was a boy, and lonely or afraid, I’d ask the grown man in me for assurance. Today, I talk to that boy, and I ask the old man in me what it looks like from there: what sort of man do I become? What sort of man won’t I be any longer? Will I find light in unexpected places?

— Sy