Saturday, May 07, 2005

God's Children

I stand outside on a cigarette break, inhaling a mixture of cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes. The temperature here, a few scant feet from the road, is approximately five degrees hotter than it is at the store-front twenty feet back from the road. My amusement at the effect of humanity is ever-increasing. Oh, but we are important, are we not? We matter. We can pollute, we can destroy, we can do these things, detrimental to our own health and that of the rest of the planet, for we are important. We are not like the other animals. We are above. We are the dominant species on the planet. We are God’s Children. We are special.
Watch the traffic crawling by, the mid-day rush. I’ve never understood the phrase “rush hour traffic;” for I have never seen traffic during this hour in anything resembling a rush. Oh, perhaps the people inside the vehicles are. Sitting in their Hummers and Hondas, their Toyotas and trucks, complaining about the heat, about their job, about their spouse, about the traffic, talking on their cell phone to someone ten cars ahead who responds with further complaints. Yes, these people are in a rush. In a rush to get to the job they complain about, home to the spouse they moan about, perhaps to stop by a park instead and bask in the heat they despise. These people are in a hurry, these people are important, these people are special. They should not be sitting in traffic waiting because some idiot can’t drive. So they change lanes and cut someone off. They are important. They are special. They are God’s Children.
I take a drag from my cigarette and stare down the lines of cars. I do not stare down the line. I stare it down. I glare, I glower, I put the weight of my power upon stopping it, upon halting it, upon freezing their people where they sit and forcing them to think aloud, forcing them to speak their thoughts aloud, allowing me to hear them. I hear them, each and everyone. They speak loudly, they speak in agitated tones. They speak of their lives, of their occupations, of the traffic, of the dreams they had; the ones that have died and the ones one their deathbed. They speak of settling, of compromising, of giving in. They are comfortable, now. In their youth they longed for change, for importance, for something bigger than themselves. Now, they know that desire was foolish and misplaced. They have comfort, now. They have a nice house, in a nice neighborhood, and two nice cars that they got a pretty decent deal on. No money down. No interest for the first year. They are set. They are comfortable. They are God’s Children.
Their voices, raised at once, drowning out the creak and churn of the car movements, come to me, and I hear their cries. I hear their despair, their calls, their disappointments and pride. To those around me, it seems a cacophony, a discordant, overwhelming saturation of unintelligible noise. The cries, at once raised like this, seem so different, so strange, purely chaos. I close my eyes, holding the noise in my mind, and it flutters about me, butterfly wings bristling the hair on my neck and the fine bits on my ear. I feel the flow of the noise, rather than hearing the sound, and I search within it, without it, then step back. There it is, the thread of the song, the orchestra. I find it dancing amongst the complaints, amongst the cries for help, amongst the crushed dreams. I feel it rising, like a Mozart, I feel the crescendo, the climax, the dénouement, the conclusion. The violin strings strumming out the final notes. This is the orchestra. These are the notes. These are the a-flats, the c-sharps. These are God’s Children.
I let the symphony die from my ears and open my eyes once more. The traffic has begun to move again, a few feet at a time, and the voices are again silent, save those on their cell phones, and they are merely noise, not voices. I look out across the sea of cars, and see the ants scurrying home to their hole. I see them rushing out to do their work, picking up this and that for the queen, returning to the anthole. I see the drones, picking up the little bits, the bits of food they carry not for themselves, but for another. For someone above them, someone more important, some queen. They carry these bits for someone else in the hope that after a day of carrying them, they might get part of one for themselves. They carry them with this in mind, blind to the bit already in their talons. The bit in their mouth. It holds them, it pulls them, it burns them, and they obey. And if they do not carry enough bits, if they do not work hard enough or are unlucky enough, at the end of the day, they get no bit, but instead a beating. And waking the next day, hungry and sore, they search again for bits for the queen. These are the ants. These are the drones. These are God’s Children.
I wonder, then, if all ants delude themselves. If all ants believe them to be special, to be unique, to be important. Do all ants think themselves above the throng, above the chaos, above the planet, or is it merely the two-legged breed that suffers from such delusions? I long for the day of flying cars, the day the future comes as was promised in movies and fantasy novels, the day they shall rise above the ground, above being ants, above that rush hour traffic. I long for the day when they will fly to and from work instead, seeking out pollen for the queen, returning to the hive, being beaten for their misfortune, being beheaded for their decreased production. I long for the days when we might be bees rather than ants. The delusions are no different; the technology serves further only to make us believe in something special, something unique, something individual, floating magically within ourselves somewhere. These are the delusions. These are the self-denials. These are the betrayals of reality. These are God’s Children.

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