Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Perceptional drift

It's fun to have those moments when one realizes his perceptions of the world have been changing. Just slowly enough to not be noticed, but quickly enough to cause a mental "Whoa!" when it is noticed (like the already shoulder-high rosebushes in our backyard). I noticed this morning that my perception of speed has undergone some serious drift.

I walked my commute this morning (80 minutes on foot, 25 by bike, 15 in car). I noticed the bikes whizzing past and thought, "That's too fast to see anything!" I had been noticing the jagged edges of new leaves, whose gutters needed mending, reading the announcements on all the tiny Brooklyn shops' doors. The world was in slow motion. I smelled more, too. The little smells in between the big ones, if that makes any sense. It was a lot like when I first started non-sport cycling five years ago. And there were the cyclers with heads down, trying to stay ahead of buses and make those timed lights just like I do.

Twelve miles per hour has become 70 with the cruise on for me. My detail senses shut down and wait for a stop. Those leaves with jagged edges become green stuff off to one side. I can count on one hand the memorable "scent zones" along my commute route (the bottom, the woods, the river, Ross Island cement, downtown). Twelve miles per hour sounds slow, but 18 feet per second sounds fast. It depends on what one's looking (or sniffing or listening) for.

A little odd maybe, to walk to work during bike to work week, after biking to work during the 51 non-bike-to-work weeks. But, I think I'll hoof it more often, just to encourage a little more drift in the slow direction. Maybe it will remind me to sit up and slow down on that fire chariot that is my 40 pound commuting bike. Plus, those jagged leaf edges are pretty cool.



Blogger scott said...

Interesting--I wonder how much of the blur effect has to do with commuting the same route. Would you (we?) be more likely to see the details if we were out on a different route?

10:03 AM  

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