I'm walking home and watching the harvest moon cast a line of difused cream across the dark waters. A car is approaching out of the shadows in front of me, and I think, "I know that headlight style". The car stops and a police officer calls out to me. "Hello!" he says. I echo the word, as is my duty as citizen. A slight pause, then the pitch: "What are you doing?" It's a sensible question -- no one in this town stays awake past midnight, much less 3 o'clock. "I'm going home from work," I respond in the same friendly/serious tone. "From where?" he asks, the picture of legal politeness. I jerk my thumb behind me, a mute gesture encompassing this last long day. "Armourtech". "Oh yes." he says, like I've remembered a password. "I've seen you before. Long night!" I nod mutely, and mumble a goodbye as the car moves on. I've seen longer.
When I get home the furnace is off and the temperature suits me. I wander like an animal between my various rooms, celebrating the familiarity of me-design. Us humans certainly do like the habitats we create. As I pass the dresser, I empty my pockets of cheques and other currency, not caring what pile they fall into. I care so little about money, especially for an up-and-coming guy living so close to the poverty line... it's just never a real issue. Of course it matters, but I can think of so many things that matter more.
In a few weeks, on the top of a crest, I will switch gears and develop a keen interest in finances. That's when I discover a few thousand dollars in assorted revenue near the bottom of my sock drawer. This is useful around Christmas.
The house is very quiet, for a city house. Since I shut the furnace off before I go to work (thus delaying the inevitable fossil fuel disappearance), the coolness keeps our fridge mainly idle. There's no sound except for the click of plastic on plastic, or rather, my own typing. And that faucet that won't stop dripping. Things that won't stop wasting really, really annoy me. The bad thing is when I fall into that category. But I have a golden theory to save me, and it goes like this: we are all doing our part. There is nothing flawed with human nature, it's only the society we live in that dampens our resolve and corrupts our leaders. That misleads innovation and promotes conformity. That offers us a hundred piles of trash and one precious glimpse of art. Within the maze we are living as best we can. And most of us are damn decent folk.
In the uncivilised world, there is no word for "art". Everything is art, and art is everything. Here in the dim light of reality, art is an excuse, an escape, and something of a reward. Not to mention our saving grace as a species. For in contrast to the horrible things our race has busied itself doing these last thousand years, our art stands illuminated with stunning grace and beauty. It's because we're so foolish normally that this difference is noticeable. And as much as the stark level of contrast terrifies me, we have to admit that it's a compelling picture... one that hints, as only art can, of a better tomorrow. When I see this, in a song or a sentence or a picture or a person, I am caught between a few broken tears and a leap for joy -- happy because it's right, sad because everything else is wrong. We still have time to change, certainly: human evolution is the fire and time is the fossil fuel, keeping us bright with ideas and hope as things slowly run dry. There are a million ways out of the maze, an exit at every turn. And we already believe in happy endings, so all that's left is the freedom step. Have you taken it?
November 20 1999