In the distance, the whooshing hum of evening traffic is almost deafening, as rubber tires spin across hardened pavement. Those modern, mechanical carriages are so close to us, and yet we are invisible to them, mostly. The occasional traveler may catch a glimpse of us here in this place. We see you as you whiz by. We hear you as you move deliberately towards whatever destination you have selected. I wonder where you are scurrying, to and fro. We sit idle, calm, and patient, in this pool of mirrors with our nightly moon wedded in a giant ring of light. The sky, brighter than normal, casts its glow onto the glass below us.
This night, a halo wraps our silvery jewel, about five hand widths, when my arm is extended towards the heaven from shore. Perhaps this is why it fell outside the lens of my selected frame when afloat. I missed it entirely until my perspective widened. From there, became readily apparent.
The earth-most portion of the ring is concealed against the backdrop of trees bathed in black. This sky is brighter than those jagged shapes and I am unable to look directly at them. Instead, I must avert my eyes to notice only from my periphery.
Shadows encompass us and it is quieter than usual, aside from the decreasing number of groaning Doppler echoes. All the night creatures, perhaps, are out there following their daily routine: feeding, growing, mating, dying. Some would say our species follows similar patterns. We place ourselves above these natural things, convinced we have evolved beyond them. But I ask, have we really?
Their mating rites are as complicated as our blasts of electrons onto social media. Sometimes they cluster as we do, hopeful that those numbers afford them a greater chance of successfully carrying on. They bathe themselves in color and posture, each screaming out… pick me, let me continue onward. We too shroud ourselves in ornate displays, from saturated neon, incandescent paints and luxurious fabrics, so that we may hide our imperfections and accentuate our greatest attributes. We mimic their most elaborate dance, you out in the abyss. Our kind also seeks to leverage the night to our advantage. We all compete against one another of our respective genus, vying for the best chance to pass ourselves forward into a new generation. Are we really so different than you?
Out there, in this living darkness you are struggling, just as we are. Without quarter, and without luxury say some, but I imagine you building your nests, and decorating to create your homes, safe and beautiful. The most delicate to the most brutish, and we all share this same moon.
Many of our kind ignore you entirely, unless you become annoyances by invading our domain. But you are out there, flourishing, and offering up your call of life to this night’s sky. Your calls are sometimes soft and subdued, and, at others, thundering and boisterous. Tonight, you seem drowned into the constant roaring of air over metal, and the high-pitched whine of wheels against road.
I imagine the creatures of the day also, but their story will have to wait for another verse. Tonight I contemplate you, my dimly lit friends. You, out there, fighting the cold and the dangers of the dark, struggling to see a new sunrise.
What is your magic? The tasks you perform, surely, are majestic and mysterious. From the smallest to the largest, do each of you yearn to be the best of your kind, to be of service to others? Or are you merely looking to survive, driven by routine and disinterested in acceleration?
Many of you will perish without notice, your records, from birth to death, completely overlooked and forgotten. Do you mourn your losses as we do? Do you protect the weaker of your kind as we do? Do you find yourselves aware when one among you does not return from your nightly mission? How is it you so deeply and naturally understand the benefits of safety in numbers? We share this knowledge it seems.
There are the solitary out there too, swimming, flying, and crawling. You endure the same beautiful agony as those of clustered groups. Do you find yourselves afraid of that dreaded darkness? Or do you embrace it, hunting, gathering, and embarking on your daily chores, unaware of that which threatens you? Some move silently, waiting to strike, to fill yourselves and extinguish your hunger. It is merciless and swift I’m sure. Tonight you hunt as you have every other night. Except tonight, perhaps, you too look to the heavens and marvel at this radiant marriage of moon and sky. Perhaps there are some of you that feel gratitude or remorse for those which must be sacrificed so that you may live. Perhaps some of you even reflect on these necessary evils. Yet you too are driven to continue on.
Surely you must already be aware of the changes in climate and the shortening of the days? Are there those among you that consciously note those differences and begin your preparations for the coming times? Our kind does that too.
Are your instincts so acute and finely honed that you already know what awaits you? There is bitterness coming in the nights ahead. A seemingly endless period of strife and harsh winter awaits us all at some time or another. Perhaps there is a lesson here? The day will always fight back, given enough time. But its warmth offers hope of peace and comfort that allows us all to remain steadfast through the coldest and most desolate times.
All of you, out there, watching us as we watch you. We see you. We sense you there. Sometimes our observation may come only in the appreciation of your song, and at other times, the contemplation of your silence.