What if everything, everything was in motion?
If you think about it everything is in motion. The Earth rotates at an absurd speed. It does this as it moves around the sun with all the other planets. What’s more, the entire solar system flies through space as though it has somewhere else to be and it’s late.
Everything on this planet: you, me, the screen you’re reading this on, the dog that lives down the street, we’re just along for the ride.
Not that we always knew this. The whole sun-moving-around-the-earth theory fooled us for quite a while.
You say some are still fooled? Maybe, but today’s fooling is an exercise in Unitedstatesian stagecraft and/or willful ignorance, defined as the freedom people enjoy to miss the point on a daily basis.
But I’m not interested in cosmic physics as much as in the physics of imagination: everything in motion, more or less separate from everything else.
What if everything was able, nay compelled, to move in relationship to everything else?
Now, let’s not get silly about this idea. I’m not talking about the wall over there moving in relationship to the ceiling or the floor. Buildings and trees and bicycles and people retain their physical integrity in the always-moving world.
And while the ground and sky move, it’s not like you’d see a mountain moving by itself across the sky. Not a big mountain, anyway. It might happen, but very rarely, maybe as often as a bird from South America in our own, more stationary world finds itself transported within an enormous storm system that finally peters out over Scotland.
Trees also move from place to place, though a tree in the always-moving world has a completely different root system: one that drags along the ground for nutrition, much as an electric streetcar gets its power from overhead lines.
Trees also move from east to west, following the sun, because photosynthesis will find a way.
By the way, everything floats in the always-moving world. Otherwise a lot of things would just sink into the ocean, doomed to circle the edge of the continental shelf until it rises to form a new mountain range.
Because everything floats, trees moving from east to west keep moving: from California to Hawaii to the Philippines to wherever.
Also, fish move across the land, treading ancient evolutionary paths on a daily basis to the consternation of anti-evolutionary folk who often wake to find themselves at sea.
Yes, people too are always in motion, whether voluntary or not.
Babies start drifting as soon as they emerge on the scene. Concerned parents leash their offspring immediately while the more laidback wait for their kids to circle the earth, which they do every 27 minutes (kids move so fast these days).
Meals are eaten on the run.
Bicycles also move by themselves. If people feel like going for a ride, they wait for bicycles to come by and climb aboard. But since everything in the world is moving, you’re not really riding unless you steer the bicycle in a new direction and pedal.
I mean pedal faster; pedals are always turning in the always-moving world.
Buildings and streets and parking lots move but slower than everything else. Beautiful buildings tend to group together, sometimes at the beach, sometimes in the mountains. Ugly buildings tend to follow the people responsible for their creation. Trees move aside as the sorry spectacle passes.
Yes, you in the back. Hmm? How do supply chains work when management and labor, and machines and trained operators are always moving in different directions?
Short answer? About as well as they do in our world during the pandemic.
You’d like a longer answer? Well, supply chains operate differently.
Ownership of the means of production is defined by the Law of Proximity. A factory might be built in Egypt on Tuesday and operated by someone in Nigeria who just happens to wake up next to it on Friday.
If steel tubing arrives that same day, the Nigerian makes bicycle frames and martin-house poles. If bamboo is on hand, the factory turns out flooring, window blinds and bicycle frames. Aluminum? Bicycle rims, brakes, derailleurs and frames. Carbon fiber? Mostly marketing materials.
People in the always-moving world can work with whatever comes to mind. They enjoy the variety.
Let’s move on.
In the always-moving world, cemeteries don’t exist. If they did, the only answer to the question where did we bury grandma would be who cares, she isn’t there now.
Cars and trucks? They never stop. Never. It’s like Los Angeles never existed.
Ironically, people don’t need bicycles or motorized transporation to get to their destinations. If they wait long enough, they just find themselves floating down the Arno in Florence, or picnicking beside the Seine in Paris, waiting for the kids to arrive from New Dehli or Juneau or Cleveland or wherever kids hang out, however temporarily.
And because you don’t need cars and trucks for transportation, most of them are unoccupied, used maybe for the occasional Zoom meeting, which few people enjoy and which, in turn, makes a lot of people question why there are so many cars and trucks in the first place.
Damn Zoom meetings.
What’s that you say? The world I’m describing is stuff and nonsense?
Well, of course it is. If it existed, it would be impossible to sustain a political party based on stopping migration. Borders wouldn’t exist and you couldn’t calculate gross domestic product.
On the other hand, you could get a great cup of espresso wherever you were.
And grandma wouldn’t be missing.
Imagining the always-moving world makes me better appreciate certain stationary aspects of our own world.
- Buildings with permanent addresses and temporary tax breaks.
- Tables that stay put, so coffee cups are easy to retrieve.
- And trees that move with the wind but only so far. With roots that run deep, roots that are strong, roots that are, well, rooted.
What can I say? I like riding home to the same trees that were there when I left.
April 30. 12.5 miles.