It’s funny how the world’s size changes so easily. I assume most people will agree with the general sentiment that, when young, the distance from their house to the end of the block seemed like miles – not that they probably had a good idea of how far a mile actually was. I remember once in my 3rd grade class our teacher was teaching us about distances. When we learnt how many feet were in a mile, a friend of mine was amazed and exclaimed “has anyone ever walked that far!?”
Yesterday I was driving from from New Brunswick to Summit (both in New Jersey) with my girlfriend following me in her car. As I drove through the Watchung Reservation I was amazed at the ease of which I could pull off this drive; I was impressed with my own knowledge of how to best navigate through central NJ. Suddenly, the world’s size seemed much smaller than before.
When I was younger, my dad was always amazed at how badly I seemed to know my way around – though, to be fair, it was probably due to the fact that I hadn’t started driving yet. Slowly, as I grew older the world’s size – the distance separating everything – continuously shrank and shrank. No longer was my block miles long; instead, it had become the shortest part of my walk into the center of town 2 miles away. A walk I could do easily.
After I graduated high school, I moved to New Brunswick to study at Rutgers. Again, the city seemed dauntingly large. The first time I left campus to get hot chocolate with some friends on the main off-campus drag, I was nervous about being so far from my dorm. Then, as time progressed, I learned that this main drag was one of the best places to be – I ended up living there. New Brunswick became smaller, the distance between my parent’s houses and my own college house shrank, and the size of the world was realigned.
Now, after having graduated from Rutgers, the world’s size is again shrinking. Suddenly, the majority of my friends are no longer centrally located in, or around, New Brunswick. Instead my girlfriend lives 30 minutes west from me, my old roommate lives 3o minutes north, and one of my other best friends is 30 minutes south. Needless to say, I’m going to be getting to know the roads of New Jersey much better.
It’s just interesting – for me, at least – to see how relative size and distance really are. It’s enjoyable to now be able to think how best to travel around, how my world has expanded, and will continue to expand. As the size of the world shrinks, my perception of the world continues to grow.
Mental maps are pretty cool, on a related note.
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