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In a steel and glass cage moving at 80 miles an hour, time passes slowly. But time is the only tangible sensation you can count on.

I have spent too much time in a car lately going from one point to another. What I find most remarkable about the way I relate to these places is that I go precisely from one point to another. In between I am in the car. I am never particularly in one place at any time, but simply in between. Travel is always this way. I am either here or there, or in transit. The conveyance of travel connects time and space through a simple ratio of average speed.

In the days off the Clipper Ships, you would have been lucky to average 15 knots. An airplane hits about 600 knots. The sensation remains the same as with any mode of transit beyond the speed humans can relate to. A stop in Atlanta or Schiphol makes those places more real, but they remain islands of separate space between.

I prefer to walk for the simple reason that each step places me in a place. A journey by car leaves the two ends isolated and separate. A path walked is connected at every discrete point along the way because the senses have the sights and smells and time to build a framework for understanding it. A car is apart from any of the places it moves through, with the senses only casually jazzed as the blur passes by.

My trip lately has been two hours long. The distance is not important, and the route can change if there is construction or rain. What matters is that it is two hours. I know some of the sites along the way, but generally only as signs that try to entice me to stop for a burger or gasoline. The passage of time means that we all get hungry. There isn’t much else to worry about.

As we tend towards faster travel, the separation from our world will become increasingly obvious. We already have “flyover country” and “the sticks” which mean nothing to us. These might be places that are a part of our lives, but our speed sends us past them too quickly to be able to comprehend them. They are only part of the passage of time and the effort to speed through them.

In this day of being so much faster than a Clipper Ship, we can see the entire world whiz past us if we want to. But it does not matter. We are not in any way capable of understanding it at these speeds.

One thought on “Conveyance

  1. Pingback: Two Years On « Barataria - the work of Erik Hare

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