I got to contemplating the concept of “distance” yesterday. It started in a strange way. I was flipping through channels late last night and came across “Passage to India”, the E.M. Forester story. It’s not that good of a movie but it was on a hiDef channel and had some incredible footage shot on location in India so I watched it for a couple hours. I started thinking that on that trip, more than any other for some reason; I felt a serious distance from my world. It was more than just physically being on the other side of the world, it had something to do with seeing a culture so radically different from our own.
I started thinking about the importance of distance as it applies to design. Architecture, for example is based on distances as is every type of design. The distance between elements within the design of anything is crucial. I thought of how we use this word in so many ways in language. “I want to distance myself from the situation” or “We’ve come a long distance” or as they said in Field of Dreams, “Go the Distance.” Tomorrow, as every Tuesday I’ll do what I find to be an extremely unnatural thing; I’ll drop off my daughter and then not see her until the following Monday. I can physically and mentally feel the distance between us.
It occurred to me though that distance is somehow balanced through perspective. In India for example, I was half way around the world but I could still picture what my bedroom looked like, or the faces of my family; which somehow put the entire picture into perspective. The distance between every other Tuesday and the following Monday doesn’t change what is; the bond between father and daughter, and when viewed from a certain perspective I still spend more time with my daughter than most fathers do without divorce as an impediment.
So this subject of distance has been on my mind for a couple days and tonight the strangest thing happened. I was looking for something to read so I pulled out one of the volumes from this large set I have. I’ve read numerous volumes from this thing but still have the majority of the forty or so that I bought at an estate sale to get through sometime in my life. The gold leaf lettering on the sides has faded to the point that you can’t read it very well so you have to kind of choose one and then open it to see what it is. I just pulled one out at random and opened it to a random page to see what was there. It was a volume of poetry and it fell open to this page:
Distance and Glory
I do not nurse a grudge about life without you, the difficulty is that life is not life without you.
These relics and monuments, as poetic expressions, stand mute witnesses to their past glories, and like that drop at the corner of your eye speak volumes in silence.
In our myopic vision we stumble and see one another in wrong perspective; we fail to transcend our pettiness and reach those heights from where tall trees and dwarf shrubs appear the same.
However, it is never too late, one waits in patience, in love; For all follies and frivolities come to naught in the flow of Time.