markegli.com
Penance
2012-03-21

I woke up a couple of hours ago and have not been able to get back to sleep. Here’s a slightly edited version of something I wrote on a similar sleepless night three and a half years ago:

After tossing and turning and making an unsuccessful attempt to nuzzle up behind my sleeping wife, I roll out of bed and pace the living room. Silence except for the noise of cars cutting West through the darkness on the interstate and the electrical hum of modern life.

Light cuts across the floor; illumination from the sleeping shopping district. I shuffle back and forth across the room. Sit. Stand. Look outside, upward, wishing for a sky that isn’t murky gray-brown but a radiant blanket of stars. Disappointed again. Move from room to room listening for the drone of insects and wind in the trees. Instead, computer fans and spinning plates of metal on stepper motors chirping along.

In this moment I desire for comfort in bucolic tasks. Never more have I wanted to build a cabin on a slope of wild grasses, hedged in by the trees. Dig a pit for my excrement. Steal branches and hone with stone.

I am Man. A creature. Myself honed over the ages to a life of survival using the elements that surround me. Tonight I find myself caged in by walls of material I can’t identify as wood or rock or vegetation. I reach out and I touch them with trepidation. Unsure of what they are, how they arrived here, and for what purpose.

Where will the men of America head? We are young in History, but our trend is clear. Always away from home. Across the sea. Kissing goodbye. Heading away from these familiar constraints. Westward. Fleeing.

But now, looking around the room—out through the vertical bars of venetian blinds—I fear we can escape no longer.

© 2012–2013 Mark Egli

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