program break

The car was on the road by 9:00pm, heading south to the mountains. No freeways. It was city streets to rural routes via every traffic light until the lights of the city fell back with the suburbs like surf receding on the shore.

The inefficient route masked an urgency driving the car. The late hour departure says something for the road ahead. Too late for a road trip. The night is a hard condition for a car. Limited visibility, nocturnal creatures on the road, and tired minds on wheels.

Up on the pass by the big mountain is a parking lot for a popular summer trail. During the day for a few late summer weeks, the trail is a destination for hikers seeking vistas of alpine meadows, delicate mountain flowers, and the monumental presence of the mountain with its vertical canyons carved by winter glaciers. The car pulls in to the empty parking lot. A bolt of lightning that radiates a rainbow of colors crosses the sky. Then silence. The mountain holds order in the emerging moonlight.

Upon the following day or some days later, I find myself back in my skin. Cold, hungry, rested. I can’t recall the last time I made a clear break like this from the world and the hundred of lines of calls and push notifications that entrap and shackle me to work. On call, on tap, on persistently. The sense of touch and smell dulled with the endlessly anticipated vibrations of notices that crawled up my bones.

It isn’t enough to regain a sense of basic human dignity or to have others grant you basic dignity. What dignity is in busyness and business? A life stuffed with buzzing and no being. I had to restore the moving presence of a certain kind of emptiness. Emptied I can now be moved again by a moving question: what does it mean to be human?

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