> urticator.net

  About This Site
> Domains

> Driving

  Memes for Good Driving
  Memes (2)
> Other Thoughts
  Other Thoughts (2)

  No Speed Limits
  A Game I Used to Play
  Being the Car
> Time and Distance
  Why I Hate SUVs
  Driving in Boston

Time and Distance

Here's a little story I have. It's not really about driving, but it has as much to do with driving as with anything else.

Some months ago, my sister was moving from one city to another. Since it was several days' drive, she invited me along as a second driver. So, I flew on down, then we drove back. I say “back” … as it happened, my town was right on the way, and near the end, so she just dropped me off there and went the rest of the way by herself.

Now, here's the interesting thing. When we came to my town, I suddenly had the very strange feeling that time was supposed to be stopped, that I ought to be able to walk around and see people standing frozen in place, to pluck things from their frozen hands, so that when I really got back, by flying, they'd all start moving again and wonder where the things had vanished to.

When I thought about it, later, I realized that I do the same thing all the time. I return to a city after ten years and expect to find my friends all present and unaged, the buildings unchanged. I expect to come home, when, as the man said, you can't go home again. In short, even though I know better, I instinctively feel that only around me does time pass.

What made me notice the effect, of course, was the asymmetry between flying down and driving back. I don't think there's any great meaning to be found there, though—I figure I'd been doing too much programming, too much balancing of constructors and destructors, and was primed to recognize asymmetry.

I wanted to ask my sister if she'd ever had the same feeling, but at the time I hadn't figured out the big picture, so I just asked if flying made her feel that time didn't pass until she came back. She said no, it didn't, that instead it made her feel that the places were closer together, that the distance was reduced. I have to admit that seems much closer to reality.


  See Also

  How Associations Wear Out

@ November (2000)