I was telling myself that altitude, at this height, is a myth, although my lungs and body were telling me different. When you're taken higher, it's as if gravity increases too. I was sweating heavily, felt stuck to the floor, but was enjoying the clear space of morning and its sun.
Listening to two albums by Blackhaine, back to back, I thought about his use of driving metaphors. Cars, 'black lights on the M6', swerving lanes, windshields and wreckage. There's driving and there's being driven; driving as a symbol of control and driving as a symbol of losing control; driving as a route to possibility and driving as an endless loop on a ringroad in the distant North. I only started driving last year and it's changed my life in ways I couldn't have imagined before.
As I rounded one of the last corners on my run, a bird of prey rose from the bushes to my right, carrying another bird in its talons. The trapped animal had long, stiff tail feathers that looked, as they trailed behind, like they belonged to the hawk, so that the combined spectacle was of a mythical, rare, smooth-gliding creature I'd never seen before, surprising in its lethal intent. It was flanked by a series of other birds, smaller, possibly kin to the one that had been caught, and they jostled and spun behind the departing hawk like panicked escorts.
It reminded me of a moment almost exactly one year ago when, next to a Virginian farmhouse, we watched a flock of diving swallows burst into madness as an eagle tore down in their midst and carried one of them off. It was an Old Testament spectacle, at odds with the peaceful warmth of the evening, a deep mugginess in the air that made you feel safe even though you were sweating. The surviving swallows drove themselves into a frenzy, swerving in increasingly erratic loops, not knowing whether to pursue death, or hide from it.
I've just discovered that there is something called the 'Immortality Drive'. It's a memory device that was flown to the International Space Station on October 12th, 2008. The device contains fully digitized DNA sequences of various humans, including Stephen Hawking. The idea behind this venture is that, should a global catastrophe wipe out humanity on the surface of our planet, select examples of our DNA will be preserved, high above the earth, having been lifted to safety.