The Four Rooms of “Success”: All That Glitter Is Not Gold

It started out with a girl from my past. It didn’t work about between us, but I still cared for her. She came to the US to try to make her dream come true. All she wanted was a secure life — a good job and a good family. But achieving her dream was expensive, and the payoff was uncertain. She wasn’t going to get it from me.

When she saw me, she asked, “I couldn’t purchase the metro card. Could you please get one for me?”

She never specifically said it, but I knew she ran low on cash and needed my help, but was too proud to ask for much. She only asked for a metro card to get around by public transportation.

I didn’t have any at the time, but I promised I’ll get her one. Later on, I purchased one and would have given it the next time I saw her. My mind wasn’t at peace until she got it. That poor girl, still fending for herself by herself.

The First Room – Dermatologists

My life was a blur. I remember the struggles and then a stop to all my struggling. I opened my eyes and reached a place called “Success.” No one told me the name of the place, I just knew. It was a square room with white walls. There was no ceiling. The sun exposed its full glory and casted its light on the sparking blue pool in the middle. There were a bunch of lounge chairs surrounding the pool.

I thought to myself, “Finally, I’ve made it.”

There were a few other people there. They were dermatologists. I felt bad about my peers in internal medicine. They’re getting dumped on while the dermatologists and I got to lounge around. I jumped into the pool. The water refreshed my weary body.

It was nice to stop working so hard and to enjoy the fruits of my labor. At last, I was the captain of my own destiny.

A place called “Success” had to have cool things lying around. There was a big body board with wheels. It reached up to my abdomen. Like a kid, I ran head first into the board, flopped down on it with my stomach, and zoomed across the room. Between my amazing running speed and the distance of my running start, I slid far.

The Second Room – Elderly Couple

I slid into another room. This room was connected to the first one by their corners.

It is hard to explain, so imagine a diamond shape that you see on a pack of cards.


There were a total of four rooms that made up “Success,” and the layout of the rooms was in the shape of a diamond. The first room on the right. The second on the top. The third on the left. And the fourth on the bottom. Thus, for the layout to work with square rooms, they had to connect to each other through the corners.

The small fire lit and warmed the cave, which revealed a spacious room made of log walls. Two beds in close proximity to each other took up one corner. The rest of the room was empty. An elderly white woman rested on one bed, and an elderly white man on the other.

It was amazing. At their advanced age, they still could not get enough of each other. They held hands, talked, and were intimate.

I took my big body board with wheels and walked to the next room.

The Third Room – Prisoners

In contrast to the previous one, this was sterile. The walls plastered white, the floor tiled white. Again, two beds in close proximity encamped in the corner. But this time, they were hospital beds, with a steel chain attached to each bed and to an ankle covered with blue jumpers.

Doctors sat at the side and tended to the two prisoner-patients. However, the two prisoners stayed in bed and could not get up. Upon hearing me, one prisoner arched his head up, looked at me, and grinned. He was a white man that has not shaved for a few days. I knew he spent many years in prison. He was middle-aged, advancing to geriatric age. He didn’t look so hardened. Time struck away his cocky demeanor. He then rested his head.

I don’t know what he did, but he was not going to leave the hospital alive. His time was up. Death will one day take his weakened body. Did he regret his life?

I understand how the dermatologists reached “Success.” Or even how the nice elderly couple reached it. But the prisoners? Why are they here?

The Fourth Room – Party

At last, I entered the fourth room. This room was pretty much like the first one, with the sparkling pool in the center. But that is where the similarity ends. The room was barren and dark. No lounge chairs. No sun. Light that filtered through from the adjacent rooms illuminated the room just enough to make out the details. Without it, I would have been blind.

The floor was caked with dust. It must have been an inch of dust. However, the pool was sparkling and dust-free. No one entered the room for ages. There were no footprints on the dust.

There was a curious matter I could not explain. Bits of food littered the ground. In one instance, a broccoli must have fallen off from someone’s place because it made a trail in the dust. It seemed like there was a party recently. Yet, no one cleared the dust. No one picked up the fallen broccoli.

And There She Was

After witnessing everything that “Success” had to offer, I made my way back to the first room. I felt most at ease there.

And then I saw her. It was the girl from my past. No, it wasn’t quite her. This was another girl from my past — one I rejected early on in my life. A nice girl that I wasn’t attracted to. I felt bad for her because she will most likely remain a spinster.

But this girl and the other girl were the same, because I knew to give her the metro card. And she expected it.

I handed her the card. Finally, I accomplished my mission and could rest with a clear conscience. I asked her, “Why did you need this? Couldn’t you buy it yourself?”

She thought about it for a moment and replied, “I would rather not say.”

I nodded and left it alone. I felt sorry for her.

The Suicide Attempt

I looked to the corner and saw the second room with the nice elderly couple. I overheard them talking about committing suicide. It was their last-ditch effort to remain together. If they could not remain together in life, they will depart from it at the same time.

Their way of suicide was to kill each other at the same time. They raised their hands and choked each other.

I ran and slammed my body into my board and zipped into the room. I jumped in between them and stopped them from attacking each other. I asked, “You want to commit suicide, don’t you?”

They nodded.

“I’m not going to let you do that.”

One of the said, “I know. You’re a good person. But we’re going to try again when you’re not around.” They kept their eyes on me, waiting for me to leave, and looking for the best time to try again.

I’ve made it to “Success.” It was what I wanted since the beginning. I thought I could finally rest. But what did I get myself into? These four rooms contained nothing of substance.

Then I gasped and sat up. I was back in my room. The fan above spinning, and spinning, and spinning.

The Meaning

Do dreams have a meaning? If so, what does this one mean?

I thought about it and figured each room represented a version of success.

Room 1: This represents lifestyle, money, and status. I ended up in this room first because after all my hard work, I’ve achieved my goal. I was among dermatologists because they represent the most successful doctors. At first, this room was new and refreshing. But when I made my way back, it lost its luster.

Room 2: This represents love and loyalty among mortals, as signified by the old couple. They have each other and grew up old together. They fared much better than most couples. But even the most compatible of friends could last for how long before death overtakes one or both of them? In the end, they couldn’t live without each other so they decided to leave life together.

Room 3: This represents lawlessness, recklessness, and power. Although I don’t know what the prisoners did, I assume that their crime rewarded them early on. But then they got caught and were punished. Thus, most of their lives were spent waiting for death, chained to a hospital bed. People who succeed at the expense of others will reap what they sow.

Room 4: This represents party and hedonism. The motto is to eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. I did not see the party but I saw the aftermath. The dust. The darkness. The fallen food. The party always ends and the room clears out. The last scene is a dusty glimpse of what once was.

What about the girls who are different, but are the same? They are real people from my past. And if I stuck with them, I don’t know if I would be where I am today. It is because I have no one holding me back that I can go and do what is needed to reach “Success.” Maybe the metro card was to assuage the guilt of leaving them behind.

What does this dream mean to you?

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