Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Every day on my early-morning runs I am almost sideswiped by a long-haul truck barrelling through the night towards who knows where. This is my fault, not theirs. The hour is early; the streets are dark; my thoughts are drifting; the trucks are fast. I should be more aware, if not alert. Before sunrise, life takes on different shapes and assumes altered forms, and I am not always conscious of those mechanical beasts that share the road with my all too human awkwardness. Suddenly turning a corner, they seem strong and I feel weak. Perched at a stoplight, these trucks look like sullen beasts tied to a stake, their revving engines more like the frustrated growl of a bulldog itching to pounce than a manmade device emitting its hum. These cannot be mere trucks. Under the moonlight, they seem almost elemental, forces of nature's darker allies, modern cyborgs, merged mutations of metal, animal, and everything else that lies within man and beast.

Of course, they are trucks.

Who are their drivers? And who is waiting for them on the other side of elsewhere? I've never managed to catch even the slightest glimpse of a recognizably mortal form behind the oversized wheels they twist and turn throughout the unending night. Who drives who -- the truck or the man?

How lonely such a night must be! From here to there and back again, always on a tight, strict, deadline, delivering essential goods to indifferent employees, their fellow, waiting watchmen of the night who mask their lifelong yawns behind girlie mags and take-out dinners. One living on the road, indefinitely; the other slumped behind a desk in uniform-blue, eternally, occasionally wondering: if this is life, than what, dear god, is death? After-hour highways stacked with racing messengers, racing against life's clock. Sleepily realizing: The jig is up, because the clock aways wins.

Unless there's only one truck. Sometimes I believe this. Day in, day out, the trucks I see, the rigs I spot, blend into one another like waves the sea. Any distinctions are irrelevant. One truck, one life, seems identical to another. Perhaps there is only one driver for all of Japan, humanoid in form, barren in spirit, genetically engineered to do what humans cannot: endure a life of unending motion.

This could be the reason why I've yet to see a face in front of the windshield's glare. There is no face to be seen. If I wave a hand in a friendly wave, I will receive no reciprocal, perfunctory acknowledgement. (Robots don't do small-talk.) The truck will maintain its path through the end of the night. I will keep running. The path of our mutuals days is actually a closed-loop, only simulating change, merely replicating the exterior of difference, abolishing any nuance. The two of us will not meet again. Until the next morning, when it begins all over again, for the first time.