Revisiting the story of the first man. A parable of the role of the instincts in our lives.
Adam was awaken by a cold and dry scratch running up his naked thigh. He didn’t think twice, he threw whatever the thing was away and immediately crushed it with a rock. Getting to himself, he examined the smashed creature, with its long legless bleeding body covered by overlapping scales.
He was especially impressed by the small triangular head and the forked tong. He had never seen anything like that before, but the sharp pair of teeth certainly looked threatening.
In fact, it’s not only that he had never seen such a creature. He had never seen anything moving by itself before. Maybe there was a unique exception, in a time so distant in the past that it mixed with his dreams.
He couldn’t sleep that night anymore. He remained lying on his soft-soil nest looking at the cloudy dark sky, wondering whether there were other things like that moving anywhere.
Adam’s days were always the same. He would wake up at the first light, eat from the tree, drink from the narrow river, and start his work, pushing the stone blocks up in the construction site to build the tower.
After hours of labor, with his legs burning from exhaustion, Adam would sit at the tower’s highest edge, looking at the landscape. Apart from the incomplete construction beneath him, there was nothing particularly noticeable around. The flat gray desert extended to the horizon in all directions, until it met the also invariably gray and cloudy sky.
From above, he could see the tree that fed him. He could also see the narrow river, which stretched in smooth curves, splitting the landscape in two. Besides that, all that remained were the scattered rectangular rock blocks, which he gathered to build the tower.
The tower was a pyramidal structure, made of juxtaposed blocks and sided by a spiraling path left on recessed stones, on where new rocks were pushed up. Seen from a distance, the tower looked as an immense triangular hill, halfway built, with the first stones being assembled to yield the next layer.
Nobody had ever told Adam what to do. And he hadn’t started the tower himself either. The construction had been already there when he arrived and it was clear to him from beginning that his goal was to continue it, laying new stone layers. No training was ever needed. He felt clear as hungry the things he had to do. He knew how to choose the proper rocks for each part of the construction, as naturally as he knew the color of the edible fruits in the tree.
Adam had no idea for how long he had been building the tower. He had no memories from a previous time and he couldn’t tell the laborious gray days apart.
Everyday, as soon as the sky started to darken, Adam would check the daily progress on the latest stones. Despite the fatigue, the work in the tower gave him a sense of fulfillment, maybe even of purpose. He would walk down, eat from the tree, and drink from the river. Then, he would lie down on his spot of soft soil and sleep a dreamless night.
But sometimes he dreamt. He could see himself, or at least a version of himself, small and skinny, walking along the narrow river towards the distant half-built pyramidal construction standing alone in the desert. A figure walked in his direction. A tall and muscular man, like himself. The man also followed the narrow river, but coming from the tower. When they crossed each other, the man looked curious at him and, without stopping, grunted something sounding like “adm.”
This was a recurrent dream. In fact, this was his only dream, maybe his only early memory from a pre-tower age. He never bothered to know what that word the man said meant, but he got used to think of himself as Adam.
Awaken after such a dream, he would wonder whether there were really other people like him. And if so, where are their towers and their trees? Do they drink from the same river? Who and where are those who had started his own tower and had left it unfinished for him? But those thoughts and questions would die as fast as he fell back asleep.
Few nights after he smashed the threatening moving creature with a rock, Adam dreamt again. But this time, it was an entirely new dream.
He felt a cold and dry scratch in his thigh, and before he could shake the thing out, the scratch felt silky and pleasant. In the dark, the creature wasn’t the long threatening animal anymore, she was like him. Like him but different. She was soft and warm. And his body responded to hers as it never did to anything else. They embraced each other as to become one. Adam felt drowning in an ecstasy of completely unknown feelings. He was suddenly awaken by a carnal explosion of pleasure and for a moment searched for her, as if she were real.
That night he couldn’t sleep anymore too. He knew his work at the tower was over. He felt—he knew—he had a new purpose. At the first light, he glanced up at the unfinished tower by the last time and walked away following the narrow river.
Not much long after he started his trip, Adam saw someone coming in his way, also following the narrow river, but in the opposite direction. It was a person like him, but smaller and skinnier; a boy. He looked at the boy and for the first time in his life something made sense. When they crossed each other, he managed to grunt the only word he knew, while the boy looked confused and shy. Although curious, Adam didn’t stop. All he wanted now was to meet her, the silky, warm eve from his latest dream.
He continued walking along the narrow river and didn’t even notice when the tower disappeared below the horizon behind him.