I’m walking, slowly, on a campus sidewalk. Around me, others are walking too. They are walking faster than I am, not swiftly, but steadily passing me as they go hither and thither about their days. There are many of them, and most of them are moving together, as one. They flow down the sidewalk together as if a liquid, occasionally damming up behind an obstacle before finally funneling through doors and filtering into their countless destinations. I am only a stone in their river, and as they wash past me on all sides, I too am prodded slowly forward along their course.
I begin to walk faster, until I, too, am one with the liquid mass. It is a new world. At my own pace I had been but one among many, but now we all walk together, a thousand chattering friends in the great hall under the sky. Our conversations come with us as we go; we share tales of the day thus far and make plans for the night to come. We smile and joke and laugh, and we become oblivious to all of our surroundings. It is almost as if we, the walking, were still, and the world was moving briskly beneath our feet.
Once again I hasten my pace, stretching my legs farther, until I am zooming through the crowd. My speed shatters the conversations around me, and I move between the fragments, gathering bits and pieces as I go: he has a test on Tuesday, her aunt had surgery last week, the party was at Jake’s house. That’s all I know; the voices fade behind me. All the others seem so slow to me now! Whereas once I was a rock rolling slowly along their riverbed, I feel now like they are the boulders, and I am a kayak crashing over the rapids, weaving between and around the obstacles in my course—the laggards in my way.
Suddenly, I stop. Now I am an island, and though the others still flow around me, I have broken from their river. I am now one with the earth and the sky; I am joined with the concrete of the sidewalk, the bricks of the buildings, the grass in the lawn. I am a part of the landscape, and soon others are passing without even looking, as if I was firmly planted here, a tree in their trail. As I stand here, I begin to ponder.
How does the speed at which we move through the landscape affect our view of the landscape? How do the different speeds at which we move relative to each other impact our relationships with one another? And how, in turn, do people’s views of the world affect the ways in which they move through it?
How fast do you go? Why? Do you ever really think about it? What does it matter?
Your comments are welcome.