The alarm clock clicks to life, and I wake to the sound of the radio announcer reciting the news. I sigh, reach out and shut it off, then swing my legs to the floor and start my routine. Let the dogs out, shower, shave, dress and eat. Each step must follow the other in precise order, or my morning will come off the rails, and I will have no alternative but to wake up. On a good day I can be halfway to work before that happens.
This isn’t a good day.
After standing in front of the refrigerator for 5 minutes trying to pack my lunch, I give up, throw fruit into my lunchbox, and go say goodbye to my wife. She rolls over in the sleep warm bed, and her embrace is like a siren calling me back into the depths of slumber. The Dogs sigh, to let me know where they have curled up, and I reach over and scratch their bellies for good luck. No bad day has ever begun with a kiss, and a belly scratch.
Outside, the neighborhood steams in the silent darkness. At this hour only a few lights have blinked on in the houses. I follow the street as it leads down the hill like a stream, flowing into an ever widening current of traffic, until at last I am out on the highway, pulsing in lines of red and white, like blood through the arteries of the city. This is my 14th year of making this drive. 20 miles one way. 5 times a week. 48 weeks a year. 134,000 miles of yo-yoing between two worlds.
With any luck I will only have another 20 years of doing this.
Christ, that’s a depressing thought.
Each morning is a choice. I can choose to participate, or I can choose to stay in bed. Either way the machine grinds on as of its own will.
I think of the millions of others who have come before me. Picking up their tools, and going about their work, by foot, beast or wheel, and I wonder. Is this malaise as old as mankind, or just some modern disease?