I work ten hour shifts delivering for Amazon- ten hours, three to four times a week- and I did this all through the hottest July recorded in Utah’s history. Sometimes, in the hottest part of the day, with sweat collecting beneath my breasts and dripping, salty, from my brow into my eyes, I have wondered what I am doing squandering the precious moments of my limited life one repetitive motion at a time. Numbers, always numbers, numbers on the houses, numbers on the packages, numbers on the app, numbers on the street signs and the sweltering vans and in my head until I feel there is no room in my mind for anything else.
But then- on my way back to the station that night- as dusk begins to filter through the air around me, something changes. I feel that every moment is transcendent in some immeasurable way, that perhaps in each singular moment there is something amazing to be found just by the experience of breathing and being human, that ten hours out I may have gained nothing solid except dollars in my bank account, soon to be swept away by the endless barrage of bills demanding payment, but I’ve seen gardens protesting against the sun and cats drooped sleepily over railings, and trees that provide me a second of pleasurable shade against the cruel sun. I’ve heard songs on the radio that put tears in my eyes against my will and laughed at the ludicrous situations I encounter.
I feel that maybe life isn’t about collecting dollars or even about always being happy. Maybe it’s just about feeling your heart beat and marveling at what humans do. From space, we’re just an ant colony, crawling down freeways in funny little lines, erecting skyscrapers that are nothing but lego creations in a vast universe. That’s hard to see when you’re struggling day by day, paying bills and collecting junk mail and defrosting the freezer, wondering why adulthood isn’t more fun. The irony of finding comfort by thinking of our galaxy and our insignificant planet isn’t lost on me. Here I am collecting small paychecks for hard labor while the man who has exploited millions like me is the one to venture into space. It’s an ugly irony.
Still, when I’m getting off I-80 in the dark, seeing construction workers scattering across the roadside in their neon yellow vests, I can’t help but hope I’ll remember these insignificant seconds of peace. I will myself to forget my bitterness over things I can’t control all on my own- things like income equality and racism and sexism and climate change, rainforests being burnt to make way for monocultures, glaciers melting in places I can only dream of seeing- and feel, after ten hours out, contentment.