I don’t know much about human beings these days, though I used to think I knew everything worth knowing about them. Putting a little distance between myself and the daily onslaught of news, spending my time in my own company instead of in the company of other people, and watch/listening instead of speaking when I’m around others has forced a realization that I don’t know spit about these creatures.
But it’s also clear to me that I didn’t know spit about them back when I knew a lot about them. Including me. I was in too close and personal, too much a part of the herd, to see what was happening around me. A person inside a jetliner going several hundred miles an hour can throw a rock from the tail section all the way to the pilot and when it plunks against his scalp that rock will have traveled further than Babe Ruth ever hit a baseball. A fly inside the cabin of a jet fighter is supersonic when it goes from the back of the cabin to the front.
In a sense, the same phenomenon is at work when humans are in the company of other humans. Bunched up together in a stadium, concert hall, skyscraper, there’s an invisible wall around them disguising the fact the rocks they throw are going further and the flies are flying faster than anyone had any right to expect. The person in the next seat, the stewardess serving meals and drinks, the movie playing seems real to them, while the 20,000 feet to the ground doesn’t, while the outside rushing by doesn’t seem real at all, and all that microscopic activity on the ground below them doesn’t count for anything.
Back when I rode airliners, worked in buildings full of people, drove around inside a vehicle in heavy traffic and kept track of events I knew a lot about human beings. Same as you do now.
But now that I’ve backed away, put some distance between myself and humanity, to me they look more like chickens than they ever looked like human beings. I understand chickens fairly well, but I don’t know squat about human beings.
Simon and Garfunkel — I am a Rock