Along an anonymous road, a road like any road, a road like every road, there is motion. The hunched figure on a bicycle is moving. Down the road he moves. He has always been moving. The white painted line, scuffed and missing in some places, leads him on. His motion is itself a timeless worship. The sacrament by which he receives the grace of his mistress.
Oh, the Sun, that great mistress, tyrannical yet full of praise, she rages high in the sky. She bathes the road, the figure with her blazing radiance. Her demands. Her praise. She always has. The figure’s form is alight in the unrelenting essence of his mistress. But he feels no pain, no pleasure, indeed even the sensation of time passing is absent. Perhaps there is no time, just motion.
The road rolls past, the blacktop itself in motion. The brutal caress of the mistress has seared the surface to the color of gray-white ash. Two glassy eyes at the head of the bent figure are fixed on that slippery spot in front of the bicycle where the craggy textured details of the asphalt slide into the indistinct blur of motion. But the eyes don’t see.
That ashen smear of asphalt slides under the bicycle, under two legs, two feet. Attached on one end to the figure, on the other to the bicycle, all moving as one, in their own way. As they always have. They trace two opposing ellipses in the air, up down around, up down around, up down around. A three part harmony to the horizontal melody of the figure’s worship. The uncountable distance races by, the legs sing and strain without pause. But the legs don’t feel.
This is how things are, how they always have been. The sun and her rays demand motion. From motion comes life, comes death. But there is no life or death in this scene, just motion. The road obeys and in its devotion cracks and splits, burns to ash. The bent figure also obeys the mistress’ command, glassy eyes transfixed on the elusive, legs thrumming a steady rhythm. This is how it is. How it always has.
All is one. All is peace. There is no separation, only unity. The gray road, the rolling bicycle, the unseeing eyes, revolving legs, and even the mistress and her ardent passion are all the same expression of pure timeless motion.
I died when I began. Just now. I think it was a jarring pothole, or maybe a large truck that strayed too close. Whatever the cause, it has gone, but with the force of its passing it killed me and begot me. Here I find myself, new to this world, dead in the world, riding a bicycle on the side of this rather unremarkable road. My first thoughts weren’t these though, no, they were thoughts of sensation. For what is thought without sensation?
My first sensation was pain, brilliant piercing pain quite literally unlike any I felt before. The pain was in my legs, the cumulative buildup of an eternity of pedaling. The pain was in my skin, red and blistered from the brutal ministrations of the sun. The pain was in my eyes, my first sight blinded by the vivid curtain of searing light reflected off the gray road in front of me. The pain was in my back, my shoulders, how long had I been hunched over these handlebars?
My next thoughts were true suffering. Pain in the mind, debilitating confusion, who is this I, what is it doing here, what is here, why is there? Pain in the heart, where is my home, where is the end of the world, why am I alone?
This corporal and cerebral agony washed through me in the first fraction of my first moment. Or maybe it happened the other way around, the pain of existence itself heralding my beginning… I don’t know, it’s difficult to pay attention to things before one is. In any case, I was ripped from the whole. Where there was one, now there was the I and everything else.
I’m a few moments old now, yet I feel older than time itself. I’m riding a bicycle along an anonymous road that could be anywhere, could be any road. I am in motion, have I always been been here? I’m drenched in the scalding fire of the sun. The air is thick and stifling. I have a sunburn on my neck, my arms. My legs are sore. Thirst. Have I ever tasted water? I am tired. Tired.
A gas station, a cafe. Shade. I do a thing that’s never been done. I stop. I lean the bicycle against a mauve concrete wall and detach myself from the bicycle, remove myself from the unbearable heat of the Sun, from the road, from the timeless motion. Now it’s lost forever, but of course I don’t know this. Only the pains of flesh, of the mind concern me now. I am hungry, need a toilet.
I speak the first words.
“Excuse me, what’s the wifi password?”