Tomorrow morning at 7:15 AM, I will fly out of JFK. Perhaps, that is why these words of John Hay from the book, In the Company of Light, have such meaning for me.
"Sitting out during the noon hour, under the wide skies of Maine, we have often watched the vapor trails of passenger jets as they come in from Europe. As the planes move west or south, on time, heading on straight trajectories for their destinations, these trails, broad white woolly bands, begin to fray, to curl at the edges and disappear as the planes pass over. The passage across the Atlantic once took months, instead of hours, over monotonous or turbulent seas; it was hazardous, never "convenient," and the sea often took its toll of lives. At the same time, the world ocean was the major confluence of all travel and exploration. We can now cross all time zones and navigate the globe, thirty thousand feet or more in the sky, while being abstracted from our surroundings. The passengers sit in their cramped seats waiting for the landing, the passive spectators of our age. We soon land back home again, with its speeding machines, having cross the globe with impunity. Distance and time have almost fused together."
"Our age, measuring time in milliseconds or millions of years, can reverse it, or change it to match our needs. The Hubble telescope can now peer into space far beyond what any previous telescope has been able to do. Behind our own galaxy are trillions of stars, always out of reach. The astronomers can peer off, millions of light years into space, toward the big bang, and the presumed origin of the universe. It must be where Nowhere begins, and one might wonder what we will know, or do, when we get there. The human race has never progressed so far wtihout imagining that it would be possible to return. We exist, after all, within an inheritance of light, and our co-inheritors are endlessly resourceful in their use of it. The conquest of time and space is only an empty phrase without the inclusion of life itself, the real fire in our small corner of the universe."
My brother and I discuss the changes we have seen in our lifetime. Is any other as interesting? Fascinating? Challenging? Adapting?
Children on the ferry sit with computers on their laps, playing games, watching movies, typing. My son Jeff loves to play a game on-line with his friends around the world. What is "real?" Does it matter?
I do think we need, at times and in spaces, to sense and feel what is around us, but maybe the walk through our brains re-arranges the marshes and reeds. I do not know. I only know what I need, and nature seems to be where I most easily breathe, where I feel the wind, and the tides, flying mightily through butterflies, and bees, magnifying what I see to seed.