Last night, I bore witness to a reckoning.
As I was finishing a novel called The Overstory — which reminds humans that we are quickly draining the earth of resources and, due to our own pitiful hubris, we will soon eradicate ourselves — a thunderstorm rolled in on a wave of darkness, shaking its electric fists.
A lover of the violence only the sky can create, I cracked my window open to let the storm pour into my apartment until my bones shook. The unpredictability of the thunder made my heart race, as a minute of silence would be truncated by a crack in the atmosphere louder than human sin.
The rain slapping my windows like so many tiny punishments called me to place my hand on the glass. Among the warmth of the summer sun that had been baked into the panes, I felt the crackle of electricity the air deposited on my building as an afterthought — or a warning.
The black sky flickered as the gods played with the light switch and lightning giddily burned its way across the city. Every so often a bolt would stitch the horizon in two, leaving imprints on my eyelids reminiscent of snapping neurons. I knew that if I could touch one of those white streaks it would feel like the sun had landed on earth.
Before too long, ambulances and fire trucks became a staple of the violent hour, careening across slickened streets and wailing in pathetic recreations of the storm's own screams. I could hear several fire alarms screeching in nearby buildings as humanity fell victim to a world we thought we could tame.
To my right, a sheet of cookies sat neglected in the light of the stove. I was giving all of myself to the world outside, so the world inside became a trivial dollhouse, those cookies a symbol of my neglect for nature’s control. Cookies? No, the sky’s wondrous violence was my future.
Beneath the scattered rain and booming thunder, the city sat more quietly than I’ve seen it in months, devoid of the people who give it life. And isn’t that the most wondrous thing of all: how nature can still bring man’s greatest pillars of development to its knees?
I flipped the final page of my book as the storm spat out rain from the back edges of its clouds, already terrorizing the next square mile of humanity with the heart of its anger. I felt that anger in the words I read and in the sky I studied, and I felt helpless to do anything about it.
But in its glory, the storm made itself clear: it didn’t need my help. In the end, we will be gone, yet nature will remain to wash away our every mistake.