The World is a Lot Bigger on Foot

January 16, 2010

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Click through the link here.

That meandering blue line is the sliver of Belfast I know. If you zoom out some, you’ll notice how small it is compared to the size of the city itself. I’ve hardly spent any time in the northern parts of the city, or out in the western districts. In fact, really… I pretty much just stay in the middle.

Why?

I walk everywhere or use a bike. In fact, you could lop off pretty much everything on the east side of the river if I wasn’t borrowing Harriet’s bike right now, because it would just be way too far for me to go with any sort of regularity. It gives me appreciation for the wonder that the automobile is.

Seriously. I mean, it puts all sorts of crappy stuff into the air, but being limited to where I can get with my own propulsion has made me identify with that hoary old kernel from middle school. “Most people in history never went more than seven miles from their home.” Or something like that.

I can believe it.

There’s a different side to this, though. We really love being “more connected,” whatever that means. Because of the internet I heard about the latest dumb thing that Pat Robertson said mere minutes after he said it! I knew about the tragedy in Haiti nearly instantly. I didn’t hear about the bomb that exploded underneath a Belfast police officer’s car until my dad emailed me about it, though. Why? Because unless I read it on one of my online news sources or the Guardian– which is the only paper over here I read with any regularity– I don’t hear about it. Dissident Republicans aren’t newsworthy in the face of parsing Harry Reid’s “negro dialect” comments, apparently.

I wonder if cars do the same thing. If I had a car I could venture down to Dublin with ease; make a trip to Derry; wander on down to Cork where my family came from. I don’t think I’d have as good a feel for the middle of Belfast as I have, though.

Is this the tradeoff?

I’ve started picking up the Irish Independent when I’m in Common Grounds in order to better keep up with the news on the island better. But even this betrays locality to some extent. Dissident Republicans tried to blow up a police officer. What’s on the front pages everywhere right now? Iris Robinson’s affair.

Oh, 2010.

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