restless

I have always been restless, he said to me, as we sat there on the curb, watching traffic flow into the fading light of a late spring afternoon. And yes, it is submerged sometimes, buried under a layer of work and family and responsibility, but always my heart yearns for something different, bigger, something that would satisfy my soul, and I do not think it exists – at least, not here. I wondered aloud what he meant, tracing taillights with my eyes as they fled into the dimming sun, as it fell behind a bank of gray heads of cumulus, swollen with rain and enflamed by the sinking sun. The world, it seems to me, is marvelous, struck through with wonder, for those who have eyes to see it, blue skies, and babies' eyes, and cool breezes off the mountains; meaningful work and strong families; God has made everything good. Even here. All true, came his reply, and yet, he paused and sighed, and gestured: the endless flow of cars and trucks and semis coursed on like some steel-and-rubber stream. What does this mean? Is there reason behind this? Order and even artistry I can see, but is there some fundamental, teleological truth, some greater veritas behind the chaos of this well-ordered madness, something to say it is more than pollution? – for my soul wishes all this were otherwise. The same restlessness beats in me, I admitted, the highway breeze hot on my face, the stink of gasoline mingled with the sweetness of a thousand lilac blooms, unfurling this week in the fenced yards at our backs. But I wonder, even now, here, if the problem is, after all, with the world, and not with me, whether it is not simply my own blindness that hides splendor in jet trails and changed diapers; even this broken world is still magnificent. But that is just it, of course – his arms took in the whole sky, diesel exhaust and white fish-scales, and the arc of flame sinking into a humid haze – Isn't it that brokenness, cars belching ruin on the world when they ought to make it beautiful and better, order and reason made the slaves of greed and destruction, artistry set on its head, inverted, everything subtly gone awry? To which I had half an answer, sprawled beside the pavement under heavens where light and dark tangled, swift falling shadow and blazing sunset warring over this stretch of smoggy tarmac and green earth. All is shorn of what it might be, twisted out of proportion, painted the wrong color, true; but we are restless not for some other where, or thing new, but for dirt between our nails, and automobiles, somehow filled with glory.

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