Open Skies: Any Mouse, Anywhere.
Wide-eyed and wide open, as only a child’s mind could be; the question took me by surprise: Who is any mouse?
One of those million dollar moments that last no longer than a nose print on glass. No rush, savor the welcome into kid world.
Not sure what you mean. Can you tell me more?
You know, like when a saying is from “Any Mouse.”
Smile. Don’t let the snowflake melt. Ah, yes. Any mouse–what do you think it means?
Well I always think of all those mice running around; could be any mouse, anywhere.
So it is–really. Ah, those faceless, nameless whiskery-little scurrying creatures.
Used to be that when you flew from DFW to say, Seattle, you knew where you were going.
The route in the air was defined by points on the ground: you knew what you’d see, you knew where it was. Cleared direct Amarillo. No matter where a pilot was in the United States, you knew knew right away which way and how far that was. But no more.
Now it’s any mouse going anywhere:
Where in the wide, wide world of sports is KD45Q? Somewhere along the way to KA36W? Where in the heck is that?
Smarter mice than me decided we now had the lightning-fast processing capability and invisible bandwidth to sever the journey from the landmarks. They redefined location, uprooting geography of place and replacing location with instance:
The airways give way to free flight; a thousand feet of vertical separation, closing speeds of a shotgun blast: honk and wave, see ya. Because now it’s about mice scrambling every which way, from one grid square to the next: any mouse, anywhere. Everywhere.
The five character identifiers are derived from a grid overlaid on the globe: “K” means USA, “D” means Denver Center’s airspace. But the other three characters, the digits? Mice scampering as they will, orchestrated by precise computers and directed by the crossroads of half a dozen satellites.
Sure, the ground references of days past are still down there–the front range of the Rockies will still bump you like railroad tracks; the Mississippi still runs a jagged course below whether you notice or not. But they’re no longer significant in what we’re doing–only in where it’s happening and that only incidentally.
In the cabin, no one realizes that their journey is unhinged from the places they know. No one could care that the brains of the journey discounts any place they ever valued–it’s just business, managing physics. Mice, midway to somewhere–never mind that the helm is set and the sails filled with anywhere. The electrons don’t care.
It’s all much cleaner now. In a way, it’s kind of what air travel’s all about, isn’t it? The journey seems to matter less, if at all; the “now” paling before the robust “next.” But like a trip to KD45Q, it means little the instant “next” becomes now–so off we scurry. Any mouse, anywhere but here; any time but now.
My little friend’s brow furrowed, face pinched. Little hands upraised. That seems so sad.
What does? What’s sad?
Anywhere. Because it’s just not home.
I think of the thousands of miles I’ve flown, the years away, bound from somewhere, halfway to anywhere.
We agree: no, it’s just not home.
And the big conundrum is not why there’s always a “next” or a somewhere else, or even how how to get back, because we do that eventually. The real question is why we ever left in the first place.