The Cows of Black Rock City

My bike, with twinkling lights strung around its frame and the chain clicking in a dry loop, glides along the dust, creating tracks on tracks, crossing tracks without pattern or reason. 

The high desert, in the dark of night, mirrors the midnight sky.  

Now, the thin layer of dust on my bike, by week’s end, will gather as though it hasn’t been ridden for decades, but instead, left old and forgotten, in the recesses of a workman’s garage. Dust on my clothes, my skin and my hair. I wear a scarf over my mouth and nose, but there must be — there has to be — dust in my lungs. By week’s end, I will also look old and forgotten.

Colored lights move and spin and dance chaotically. We become our lights in the dark expanse; nothing else to differentiate between us and the nothingness, we put on our lights and become technicolor shooting stars.

A herd of cows appears out of the dust and darkness, dim lights twinkle from their insides, the only thing differentiating them from the nothingness. I ride up to them. Stationary and unafraid, metal skeletons wrapped in translucent nylon.

Sadness wells in my heart.

Peaceful bovines, sacred cows. An object. Not a living, breathing, feeling creature. Yet these are the lucky ones, in the darkness of the playa, amongst the dust and the art; they are not trapped in a pit of manure, in line to die never having eaten a blade of grass or stepped foot in a meadow.

Their twinkling lights are the same as my own. 

Our shared reality — the degradation of life, the distortion of our divine nature. Yet I am one of the lucky ones, in the darkness of the playa, amongst the dust and the art; I am not trapped in a war torn city, used as a human shield.

I remember feeling this way last year — or was it the year before? The sadness of contrast, a melancholy inspection, sudden thoughts and emotions inspired by the depths of creation. Here in the dust — the critique of modern industry, modern society, modern greed — in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by darkness and lights.

The Herd of Cows in the morning