September 19, 2005
The world looks very different[ly] when you've driven through it at 60 mph, riden a bike through it at 10 mph and then walked through it much slower. There's a lot that you miss when you're walking and not crawling or standing or sitting. So there's even more that you miss when you're driving in a car with the stereo turned up loudly and the windows closed, since you're too lazy to wash the windshield that the Southern Illinois humidity always fogs up at night. You might see the two deer on the right of the road, stairing at your black car in fright or wonder or a combination of the two. But you might also miss the four other deer on the left, only a few yards behind the treeline, doing what deer do when no one's around with a loud car. You miss a lot of smells in the car. Leaves are either dry and annoying as they fly around after you drive over them, or they are wet and slippery. On a bike or on foot, you can appreciate the fragrance of wet leaves, dry leaves, burning leaves, green leaves, the absence of leaves. But you know, there's a lot to be said for the big-picture, too. Thoreau must have know this, with his prodigious surveying abilities. Not only was he familiar with his own corner of Walden Pond. He surveyed and mapped the entire pond. So he had the big-picture bird's eye view and the close up macro shot of a man in love with the earth. While the close-up, non-motorized view of the world is desirable for its...candor, the big-picture view is another way of looking at things that you miss on foot. Of course, there is the even bigger picture, such as from a plane or celestial camera. I used to love to find my apartment on the shores of Quincy Bay from the plane when leaving Boston to fly to Baltimore. And you can get a seriously big-picture view via Google these days, too. Maybe we'll call the car-view the fast picture. I can't favor one view over the other. The combination seems to me to grant one an interesting way of looking at things. You can tell what your home looks like up close and how it fits into the surrounding area, how the surrounding area fits the rest of the world. How you fit into the world. The universe. Everything. Without sounding like I'm going to wax mystical on a Monday morning, self-awareness can be gained this way, no?