Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A (Human) Act Worth Repeating

I was having a conversation about evolution the other day with a couple friends. Afterward my mind began to wander and I came up with this short piece. I wanted to depict our ancestor's first realization of beauty, his coming out party if you will, from the animal world into one with an extra ever-powerful dimension to it.

by AJ Snook

His eyes opened before dawn, alert. It was his only time to get out of the big tree without being noticed, a safe opportunity to travel the beaten bath to the plain, a route only groups of gatherers take when the sun is high and hot and the big cats lay lazily in their shaded dens. It's common knowledge in the troop that those fierce predators only hunt at night, therefore the troop sees it wise to sleep until light scatters the sky once again. 

He liked to escape the jungle from time to time. He liked to explore. The risk was worth it.

That morning he felt exceptionally confident because the day before he had acquired a new antler from a fallen buck. With one for each hand now, and a great fighter's imagination, he was equipped to take on the most ferocious feline, should one still be out lurking, prey-less. Chances were only the weaker, younger, clumsier ones, if any, were still out just before sun-up. Chances were also that they'd see his close-range weapons and call it a fight worth walking away from.

Making his way to the plain he could hear an early bird or two starting the day, their caws echoing past tree trunks and spider webs, dissolving into the great canopies above, no doubt unhinging the eyes of rival troop members. He knew best to pick up the pace and make it to the clearing for his own safety, but also because he didn't want to miss it. He wanted to be there for its start.

Out of breath he arrived, the horizon just beginning to show its reliable line, though the stars were still clustered mightily above. The troop all thought stars were the remnants of the mighty sun, hanging on to life against the powerful darkness, always overcoming completely each morning and sending the evil back to its unseen world yet again. It was common knowledge for the troop that the powers of light were inherently stronger than dark, for the dark couldn't remain throughout the day like the light could during the night.

Despite this advanced knowledge, the troop's thoughts were nothing beyond primal. Light was on their side, dark on the side of their pawed enemies. A smart member stayed safely with the troop and fell in line. Nobody strayed. Food, sex and shelter were the names of the game. Death was a part of life and nobody mourned. When they were hungry they hunted. When tired they slept. When horny they...

The troop's thoughts were indeed nothing beyond primal.

Until now. Until something novel clicked inside the skull of this one, this one strutting confidently, antlers in hands, into the clearing. He perched high on top of a large boulder, his lookout tower and his viewpoint. He sat cross-legged, back fairly straight, gaze expansive, eyes glossy. Neither food nor sex nor shelter were on his mind then. He let those thoughts sail away with the cool morning wind. A fourth variable, one that would change everything, sat firmly in the front of his consciousness: beauty.

Not thinking about the troop he left behind or how he would make it back safely once this marvelous show was over, he sat and immersed his very being into each moment, like a raindrops diving one after another into a pond, moment after moment, merging with them seamlessly, becoming them, becoming something bigger.

Then it happened. And his heart matched its glow, an experience so profound it was worth repeating, an experience so valuable it was worth teaching.

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  1. Thanks so much. This could be a fun one to either expand and turn into a longer story OR write connected stories across time about similar breakthroughs.

  2. I certainly enjoyed it, AJ. Very interesting, very personal look at this ancient ancestor. It felt very real, and I could become him.


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