The need for speed

Have you ever stepped off a train & suddenly been overtaken by the throng charging down the platform? Maybe you have pulled away from the traffic lights only to be left for dead by the revving masses? And what about being jostled around in a supermarket by those on a mission? I have on an almost daily basis.

But why do we feel the ‘need for speed’? I guess to answer this question you have to look at our very recent evolution. For the previous 6 million years right up to say about 1700, the fastest we humans had been was on the back of a horse (unless you had the urge to propel yourself off a cliff that is). But this changed with the industrial revolution. All of a sudden we had a desire to push the envelope of speed. Railways developed which used steam engines to propel man at breath-taking speeds (a little over walking pace) & when petrol eventually replaced steam, it all got a whole lot faster.

If we imagine that time travel was possible, could someone from say 1700 be able to sit in a plane, train or automobile & not keel-over with an adrenalin-induced heart attack or stroke? Conversely, if you went back 300 years, would your brain implode with the relative lack of pace? This poses an interesting question; after 6 million years of human plodding & then subsequently, 300 years in which there has been a rapid rise in acceleration, is the human race actually struggling to keep up with the tempo?

Ponder the state of mind if you will, of those charging down the platform at the start of this rant. Also consider the drivers, eagerly revving at the traffic lights, with the veins aggressively bulging in their temples, & even the jostlers in the supermarket – do you think their mental inner sanctum is as tranquil as a millpond? No, it’s all go-go-go & win-win-win. Conversely, do you think those who lived pre-1700 suffered with road-rage, stress, anxiety, or associated depressive illness? (Admittedly, they may of been more concerned about dying of malnutrition, being hung, drawn & quartered, or contracting syphilis).

The problem is that these days we inhabit a world that is overly driven. Actually, let me rephrase that: These days we live in a world where the human race is overly driven – the world just keeps on slowly turning putting up with whatever s**t we put its way. We have developed a culture where everything has to be done yesterday & on a deadline, with patience, being a lost virtue. But the point is, as we have only been travelling faster than a galloping horse for 0.005% of our total human existence, perhaps ‘dawdling’ & taking life easy is something that is far more ingrained within our DNA than we realise, so why fight it?

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