“Have you never slept under the stars? Raise your hands if you have” said the bearded man to the classroom.
They went quiet. Just one young woman did.
“You’ve not lived! Here in the smog-filled city, you’re nothing more than a battery chicken, moved along the conveyor belt. Yes you think you have enough. You have the food fed to you. You have your heat delivered by pipes. You fight for your place in the pecking order. But have you ever tasted freedom? Have you ever felt the way the gravity grips you into the earth? Have you ever heard the fire crackling in front of you? The cool air on your face in winter as you huddle? Or the warm air depleting your pores of toxins and making you sweat back to your core? Have you ever felt that twanging guitar music echo against the trees and send shivers down your spine and into another dimension?”
“No?! Nooooo!?!?” His voice edged upwards in surprise.
“This is the greatest travesty committed against you. To box you up, separate you from all that is good and healthy and natural and cage you into a high rise greenhouse. Then they brainwash into spending a million quid on your cage. You’re nothing more than a chicken that’s being minced, ground down, mixed with some breadcrumbs and dodgy chemicals and recombobulated into a KFC burger!”
“You ever get that feeling that something’s missing? That things could have been so different? That there’s more out there… that you could maybe, just possibly, feel that bit more ALIVE!?” His voice had become infused with deep resonant passion and his eyes were like galaxies engulfing the room.
The class was shuffling around uncomfortably. Half were in awe and half were looking for the exits.
“Under those skies where the constellations twinkle so brightly, where the moon is a white plate that makes the scenery glisten silver- you’re nothing. You’re an ant in an anthill. You’re pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But you’re also just as important as the trees, the moss, the cows, the birds and the leaves.”
“You’re part of this great grand ecosystem of life and death for your brief stint here. Then your body will decay and be eaten by worms and crows and bacteria which will then become those worms, crows and bacteria. In turn they’ll be eaten by something else and again you’ll become various different animals plants and minerals. You’re everything and nothing.”
“You think you’re living the dream here. You think you’ve made it. Your parents are proud of you. But you’re nothing until you’ve felt your nothingness. Then you realise you’re the same stuff as the stardust and the fields and the trees. And you relax. You relax like nothing you’ve ever experienced before. Finally… you belong.”
“You sleep peacefully and dream of pleasant, easy dreams and see the dawn breaking upon you. The birds twitter and twatter and maybe shit on your head, but you’re so peaceful you interpret it as good luck. You pack up your bivvy bag and sleeping bag and head to the town for breakfast.”
“Then you go home. But you’re never the same after you’ve slept under the stars. You’ve got a taste for freedom and you want more of it. You save your pennies and you live and live to get out there, to get out and about, to feel the raw unharnessed power of nature. You live to watch the sparrows dance. You live to hear the guitar singing through the forest. You live to hear the rain tinkle on the canopy of leaves. You live to feel the cold. You live to feel the heat. You live to FEEL!”
His voice had become so loud the classes heads were bracing themselves. But they were moved. Their hearts were quivering, their cells were dancing, their spines were lifting up into antenna shapes receive the man’s energy.
Dave then heard a siren from his 11th storey flat and shook his head. It was 6:58, 2 minutes before the alarm to send him on his commute.