Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chasing the Sun

He lay face down in a stony ditch, twitching nervously in a restless sleep. As the eastern horizon began to glow faintly, he slowly started to lift his head and body and crawled out of the ditch like a zombie coming out of the grave. He didn't know where he was or who he was or even the fact that he was. Not a conscious thought stirred in his brain except awareness of the dim light in the east.
Stumbling like a hungover wino he lurched toward the light. As the landscape became increasingly illuminated he saw that he was on a flat rocky plain with sharp, dead mountains in the distance. The only living things in his environment were scraggly, thorny weeds growing out from between stones.
The east became ever brighter. He felt like he needed to get to wherever that light was coming from. His energy started to build as the glow got brighter. He moved from a foot-dragging shuffle to an uneven trot. Within minutes he was running as fast as he could. As the sky turned from black to blue and the east became orange-red, he had the sense that reaching that mysterious light was the most important thing he would ever do. His bare feet were bloody from the rocks but he didn't notice. He was not a man with a body that could feel pain; he was a soul flying toward its destiny, his body merely a vehicle.
Suddenly, the most unexpected thing happened. From the center of the eastern glow came a piercing yellow light that was so bright it burned his eyes. He covered his face and screamed like a wounded animal. He momentarily fumbled around in circles, trying to look at the light between his fingers and finding to his surprise that it hurt more and more each time he tried to gaze at it. This setback lasted only a few seconds, for he accepted this new development unquestioningly and continued his mad dash.
Soon the big yellow light became an orb that lifted off the ground. As it continued to rise he became less sure that he was running in the right direction. After a while he could see that to reach the sphere he needed to go up, not east. He saw the distant peaks and knew what he had to do.
For the rest of the morning he ran at top speed towards and then up the steep, lifeless mountains. He jumped improbably over giant crags like a billy goat and plowed his way up through the scree. Shortly before high noon, he reached the summit. As the yellow ball moved overhead he jumped up like a child trying to get at a cookie jar placed just out of reach.
The moment passed and he failed. He was sure he'd almost gotten it, though. As the hot yellow disc started to descend, he was able to see that it would touch land again in the west. He ran down the mountain as fast as his legs would take him. Several times he fell down great heights, twisting limbs and breaking ribs. He took no notice of his injuries and kept rolling down the mountain like one of the many rocks he displaced, determined to reach the horizon before the light did.
Returning at last to the plain, he made a marathon sprint to the west. In time the light got there ahead of him. He howled in despair. As the orb dipped and fell out of sight, he became completely disoriented and bereft of energy, stumbled around aimlessly, and eventually collapsed into a stony ditch, where he twitched nervously in a restless sleep.

No comments: