November 30, 2014

MOSKOWITZ | Speed

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By HUNTER MOSKOWITZ

Speed is everything.

That’s what you feel when you slam your foot onto the gas pedal of a car, but it’s not what you feel on autumn evenings when the cold air bites your cheeks, or in the morning when your feet makes prints in the frost covered grass. Speed comes and goes. As much as we think our cars and trains and phones drive us faster, push us beyond limits, we stay planted on the ground. Sure, they can provide twists, turns, and leaps that thrust us into new places and situations, but they don’t exactly tear us out of our world and hurl us into another. I have witnessed many new things from behind the glass of a car or train. I have seen valleys lush with trees and bright flowers or sturdy buildings towering over asphalt streets. I have seen even more safely behind a screen. Pictures of the vast expanses, stories that move one to question a world and videos that bring humanity and life to something I have never could have imagined. All of this can happen in a second, a minute or an hour. It’s so easy; speed is everything.

But the real question is: How much time does it take to feel? How much time does it take to hear, smell, taste and see a place or a vast expanse? What does it take to understand someone’s story? How many seconds of empathy do we need to understand and recognize someone else? I wish I could answer these questions, but I fear the answer is endless. I could spend my whole life trying to learn about the tiniest strand of frozen grass or seeking to understand the workings of another life. Not matter how long I spent, no matter how fast I advanced, I fear I would fail.

But that’s the magic left in the world, the mystery that eludes us. No better than magic or mystery, that’s the meaning. Speed may brush past it, but it still stands there, maybe even planting us in the ground. Yet if speed is everything, than it encompasses more than cars and trains and phones. Speed also guides how we see the world. The world on a screen is not that different from the world outside. It places its emphasis on the same ideas and systems. And so reality, just as much as a hurdling down a street, can feel full of speed.

This is the rush, the excitement, the burning flames of life. At the same time, where does it leave us? Where does your mystery or magic and your meaning go? Some would say it burns away in the exhaust of a car or grinds to dust under the tracks of the train. Some would say we can only seek it out in the brush of a hidden forest or at the top of a peak covered with snow. Some would say that it never really existed at all or left us long ago, floating stranded somewhere in the universe.

But I don’t. No matter how fast our lives spin, something exists beneath our skin. Something that allows us, even in confines of an exhilarating world to find what we are searching for, whether we look or not. The truth, the meaning, the depth and maybe even some mystery are not some far-off place or world. They are not gone and they are not attained. They live in the walls of our homes, in grass beneath our feet, and in the dust that sparkles in the sunlight. They live in words and sounds, smells and tastes, touches and smiles; they live within us.

Hunter Moskowitz is a freshman in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He may be reached at hmoskowitz@cornellsun.com.