Nothing to Everything
James M Davis
Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen hours…I lost count on purpose a long time ago. In fact, I never started to count to begin with, and quite frankly why would I.
I am driving west; well my best guess is that I am heading west. The sun was starting to tip below the top of my windshield, signaling that it was time for me to let my trusty sun visor down. The landscape was barren. There was nothing around. I am surrounded by desert, which seemingly stretched for countless miles. There was no indication it would end any time soon. This pleased me. Occasionally, my eyes caught glimpses of cacti, tumble weeds, and what appeared to be a variety of very thirsty plant life. There was a breeze however, and it felt wonderful, especially when I drove faster. There is nothing here, nothing…there is everything here, everything.
This place had everything. Nothing, I can tell you about that. I had just left nothing behind some odd number of hours ago. Tall metallic buildings, electric signal lights at every corner, and perfectly placed lots that were occupied by millions. The sound of technology rang loudly through streets, not a single breeze ever noticed. There was nothing in this place, and there was very little hope that anything would ever return. Very few noticed this or maybe many did take note, but are too afraid to speak. They let the machines do their talking. Nothing, I left nothing for everything and I wouldn’t turn back.
Stretching my hands out on the steering wheel, a smile crept onto my face. I felt another slight twinge in my bladder. The urge to relieve myself was becoming stronger by the second. For some reason, I looked for road signs that would signal gas station exits. I guess old habits are not so easily forgotten. I switched my right foot to the brake. The emergency lane was of ample size. I continued several feet past it and stopped my car in the desert. This action sparked a memory of another trip I made several years earlier.
It was hot, muggy summer day. I was going on hour seven, that fact I can recall. I was nearing my destination, (nothing) when the urge to use the bathroom become too much for me to handle. My goal was to not stop again, I failed. I merged onto the exit ramp, relief was mere moments away. I passed through one traffic light and to my dismay this lead to a toll plaza. I handed the lady working a booth labeled “Cash Only, Change Provided” a ticket I received at an earlier toll. She took the ticket, pushed it through some machine, and spoke, “that will be nine dollars.” Absent minded for about three seconds, I handed her a ten dollar bill and a five dollar bill. She looked at me, handed me the five back, and produced my change. I drove through, made it to a gas station, and handled my business…I took a piss. I drove back to the interstate and again started my journey toward nothing. I promised myself that day that I would never take another nine dollar piss.
Standing at the front of my car, I loosened my belt, undid the button from my jeans, and let them fall to my ankles along with my boxer briefs. I stretched my arms over my head, and proceeded to relieve myself. Half way through, with my hands still over my head, I started to gracefully (really clumsily) whirl around in circles. I started to laugh. Joy pulsed through my soul. I closed my eyes and whispered, “I told you I would never take another nine dollar piss.” Tears started to run down my face.
For those who did not catch the symbolism, I will briefly sum up what the story is about beyond what is at face value. The desert, void of all of man’s creation is in fact “everything” because it symbolizes the closeness between man’s soul and God (the creator, nature, whatever you prefer to call it). Despite what is considered the norm, the city our protagonist has left is in fact filled with “nothing”. The technology of man is seen everywhere and everywhere it has distanced man from God. The buildings, machines, have no spirit, have no soul.
The memory that recalls the “nine dollar piss” is symbolizing how an act so simple, so human, so natural has become mechanized. While man should be concerned about strengthening his bond with the Lord, and continuing to grow his spirit; Man made realities constantly throw trivial detours in his way. This is a smaller example of the bigger problems that our current direction away from the spirit toward physical things causes in our everyday lives.
And finally the rush of joy and the connection that our protagonist feels with God while he is “relieving himself” causes him to laugh and cry. It beckons back to the time of Adam and Eve when man was naked, unashamed, and one with the Lord.
That is most of the symbolism summed up, I could certainly go on with more and more details, but I prefer to leave you to your own senses the rest of the way. What do you think about our separation from God (nature, Buddha, whatever your name for it is)? Is this an issue that is growing beyond our control with the advent of technology? Please share your thoughts.