Monday, February 11, 2002

I was outside on my break, earlier, pacing around, when I spied a bolt on the ground. A bright, shiny bolt, obviously dropped from one of the many delivery trucks that move in and out of our building's loading area. When I was a kid, I used to pick up various odds and ends and "collect" them. Junk, by any standard, but always interesting junk. Little oddly shaped metal pieces, usually, or plastic pieces of toys, broken and forgotten. My "girlfriend" at the time, half a memory at best now but still there, said she wouldn't have anything to do with me if I kept collecting "junk". Quite the budding southern belle, she was. I stopped, until we moved. I never knew why I did it, but apparently my grandfather did the same thing, according to my mother.
For some reason, this bolt, shiny and new, struck my attention, and I picked it up. It's pretty, in its own right, and functional. I'm sitting here, cradling it in my palm, filching ginger snaps out of my desk drawer between phone calls, and looking at it. It makes me think about a lot of things. Did the first person to pick up a shiny piece of metal-containing rock somewhere look at it, think about how pretty it was, the same way I just did? Were they inspired to make a leather thong to put around their neck and display it, show to the world this pretty rock they had found? Did they show it to someone, like I would to my mother when I found something really interesting on our walks to and from school? Did they, perhaps, just look at it, think something roughly like " pretty", and set it back down, looking around again at everything the world had to offer?
I look at this bolt, this little thing I picked up from the sidewalk, and I think about all the prophecies of environmental doom I've read today, the grim spectre of overpopulation facing us, and the undeniable guilt we face for extinction and ecological disaster. I've been feeling bad all day, the weight of the world on my shoulders, bearing the guilt for my entire species, and nothing about this bolt changes how it was formed, or any of the other things I've read today...but it's pretty. And it shines in the sunlight like a dream of that distant day, or a newfound hope against the darkness. I look at this bolt and I smile, and I feel better. Because it's pretty...and maybe that's enough for me today. Enough to keep the hope.


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