Light Year – I love meaningful paradoxes.
I recently wrote a post about our relationship with words and spoke about how we use them in performance – but I started thinking more about the first part of the post regarding etymology as I love the word ‘lightyear’.
When you start to learn about space, distance and time become related. (And then you start thinking about time travel but that’s a whole other project ;] ) A light year is the distance light travels in one year. It’s a unit of distance rather than time. I love that humans are so relational in our speaking. If we can’t describe something (like High Street) we describe it by naming it to the most similar thing we know – like pom de la terre. Surnames were professional led (Haddad is one of the most common Arabic – meaning Smith). Surname joiners such as such as ‘bar’ ‘von’ and ‘del’ all state progeny. Descriptive words degrade over time, for ‘Grape Lane’ it was due to ideas o decency (google that one – it’s dirty).
So when I hear ‘light year’ I cannot imagine almost 6 million, million miles (9.4607 × 1012 I can’t imagine 6 million, million of anything.
To my partner’s dismay I have very little grasp of maths or science and when he starts using phrases like ‘to the power of’ I switch off (sorry Greg!) and just think – it’s really frelling big. I can get my head around a year. I can get my head around the fact that light is*really* fast. It works in my head. It’s poetic. Hearing that our nearest solar system Alpha Centuri is 4.367 light years away just makes me go ‘wrahhhhh’. If you like that feeling, I thoroughly recommend The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It’s a very intense (read visceral) novel which is philosophical and immense. As a reader of science fiction you kinda become immune to the amazingness of space travel – Russell’s communication of it appeals to science thinkers but also dreamers like me with the emotional impact. The characters travel there and back in what is only )) months to them. Which is 40 years for earth, for the people they love, for the lives they knew.It’s a stark reminder of how interconnected space and distance are, although it doesn’t really affect our everyday lives much except for the additional 20 minutes it takes me to commute in trainers or high heels (IJAD’s office is up a hill).
I’d love to know if you ever feel affected by the time/distance thing – do you fly across timezones much? How does your linear perception of experience cope? I have a few more things I’m curious about too – indulge me on #InfiniteReach
– Can you imagine 6 million, million of anything? If so, what?