Watching the garbage truck

Watching a garbage truck perform its job has, strangely, piqued my interest since I was a little boy—something about people partaking in mundane daily activity while the magic of Spiritis Mundi, ignored, patiently waits in the wings.

As a pre-school child, it was a rare glimpse of a member of society doing their job within sight of the living room window. That urge to watch the weekly trash pick-up is still with me, likely at least in part for the same reasons as a kid. I’ve always felt like an outsider to our world, only to briefly enter society’s machinations for a specific reason.

Sitting at my desk, I hear the rumble of truck tires and braking, so I stop what I’m doing and stare at the green can at the bottom of the driveway. The automated truck halts abruptly abeam our refuse, extending its mechanical arm, effortlessly upending a week’s worth of all we no longer find useful.

How amazing the human mind is to design and build this single-purpose vehicle, the same evolved brain that creates inventions of horrific destruction parallel to those that advance humanity’s most altruistic inclinations. At times, to live in this world seems to be the height of insanity, a blood-dimmed tide loosed in ceremonial damnation.

My mind travels in memory, and I gaze beyond the scum line of brackish water in a small cove, the defining frontier between the open sea and the outflow of a fresh-water marsh, both existing blank and pitiless as the sun.

It makes me wonder what it takes to achieve lasting equilibrium between mind and soul, to hear and heed the falconer before things fall apart. How to maintain vitality in both Augustine’s “City of God” and “City of Man?”

I bow to society’s dictums, indignant as a desert bird, slowly pacing down the concrete driveway to retrieve the empty garbage can.

Stop.

Catch reeling thoughts.

Bards battle for unbidden grace, “And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?” 

I break free from the gyring nightmare, my inner voice a fountain of fortitude: “…and miles to go before I sleep…and miles to go before I sleep.”

(Apologies to WB Yeats and Robert Frost)

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