A lightning storm rages outside. The large window panes going from floor to ceiling in the living room rattle as the wind whips around, gathering dust off the ground right outside my building, spinning it up into little, but no less terrifying, tornadoes (maybe it’s the tornado-like action of the wind that’s terrifying; you never know what’s going to happen next) that reach up five or six stories high, lit up by dispassionate sodium-vapour lamps. I can see the eagle that usually leisurely stalks the skies at this hour struggling to find a current it can cruise in, instead being forced to glide along what guiderails of wind it can find.
The muffled sound of rain like white noise floats in from all sides, percolating through the walls, rising one minute and falling the next. The incessant flashes of lightning portend the next rumbling roll of thunder, lighting up the sky in ultra-bright flares of white before the heavens return to their dark pink-red, a horizon-spanning wound preparing to be cauterised once more.
It’s so wonderfully easy to sit inside during these moments and marvel at the casual but preconceived display of power all around. What must it have been like four billion years ago, when the first microbes were taking shape and suddenly the world around them was ablaze with electric discharges, the air itself on fire? What must it have been like when the first creatures with ears were assailed by thunder, when the first creatures with eyes were blinded by the light? When the first humans felt as if the sky was exploding and crashing down around them?
It wasn’t until the eighteenth century that we figured out lightning was electricity – but the moment we did, we cast our now-knowing eye back into the recesses of time, looked at the first sensing lifeforms of Earth and wondered what fantasies they conjured in their laughable ignorance. Just the way after some lightning storm of the future, some slouch will look back to this night and wonder what fantasies we were mulling in the middle of a lightning storm.
Will we be going around in circles?
Featured image credit: Pexels/pixabay.