And I noticed something else. The car was not only easier and faster than the team and wagon. It gave a new aspect and a new motion to the world. The wagon passed through the country at a speed that allowed your eyes to come to rest. Whatever you wanted to look at in the road ditch or the fencerow or the field beyond, your sight could dwell on and you could see it. But from the side window of Grandaddy's car where I was looking out, the country seemed to be turning like a great wheel. The rim of the wheel, at the roadside, was turning so fast that everything was a blur. To pick out a detail--one fencepost, one rock, one tree trunk--was impossible ... the smaller details were getting lost. Even farther away... there were no details at all, just the vague blue ridges way off there as if in a different world. And that, as I now know, would be the new world, the "world of the future," which to most people in it would be hazy and without detail, way off in the distance." ~ Wendell Berry, Andy Catlett, Early Travels
Just two weeks ago, we loaded piles and piles of boxes and plenty of furniture from our home of thirteen years into a giant moving van and drove nearly thirty hours across the country to a new home.
We've traded palm trees for aspens, beaches for mountains, flip flops for parkas. While it took a four day journey to get here, that's not really much considering the fact that we traversed over 1700 miles. There were plenty of adventures along the way, and I often felt that by the time we arrived, I'd be the perfect model for a new version of American Gothic. Except that the furrow between my eyes might have been deeper. My hair was definitely messier after not being really "blown out" correctly for four days. And also, I might have used the pitchfork to poke someone.
There was plenty of time for gazing out windows. And so many beautiful things to see ... rolling hills and mountains, busy cities, iconic landmarks. I remember traveling as a child. Life from the driver's seat is a bit different. Especially when you've got one eye on the road, one on the scenery, and one on your GPS.
Whoops, I guess that's one eye too many. Or one too few, depending on how you look at it.
Anyway, when I read this passage of Berry's the other day it rang so true in my heart that I had to pause and heed the warning.
Just how fast are we going as we travel through this life?
Are we speeding along, always with our mind on our next destination, moving too quickly to appreciate or even experience the scenery, the changes in landscape, the beauty in, Lord forbid--the people--making up our lives? In a lightning-fast internet world, we can't exactly go back to wagon speed. But once in awhile, we'd better find a way to slowwwww dowwwwwwnnnn. To stop the mad rush; to pause and listen. To really see the glitter of sunlight on the snow, the perfect curve of a seashell in a child's hand, the dimple on a chin. Because when we rush too quickly there is too much blur, too much white noise for us to discern what's really out there, and life becomes "hazy and without detail, way off there in the distance." We might even miss the most important thing of all ...
Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10