Tightly Shut Windows

by Christine Wang
Issue: Audeamus (Winter 2011)

Beneath a dusky night sky, monochromatic cars speed towards the horizon, their headlights fixed solely on the dashed lines of the highway in front of them.

Whoosh. Before the driver is able to process the last moment, the next moment has already streaked by, lost forever. As humanity rushes, pushing to be faster and faster and faster, everything grows hazier. The world disappears in a blur, leaving no trace of existence, only muddled memories of what once was. Only remembering the identical streetlamps flashing in their peripheral vision, people forget the road and the moments spent racing towards a destination. They fail to notice the twinkling stars, which remain as mere blemishes on the canvas of the night sky, and they fail to cherish the cool breath of night air blocked out by their tightly shut windows. In their moment, no one else exists.

But hope comes to the cars that slow. They open their heart and hear everything. Hear the sadness and the joy. A symphony of crying constantly buzzing in their ear, from newborn babies, their overjoyed parents and the doctor who witnesses miracles every day. Listen carefully and hear laughter and carefree children song’s melt into a sweet, cheerful melody.

They see the world in its entirety. On the left a child is losing her father to sickness when she has already lost her mother at birth, and on the right an old woman, wrinkles caked in dirt, is scavenging for her sick grandchild’s next meal.

Everyone has the potential to observe, but only those who recognize their speed can truly slow.

One little girl in a family leaves her lights on at night, crying in her mother’s embrace, because she is afraid of monsters. One family in a neighborhood stays awake to laugh in quiet nostalgia as they tell old family stories in celebration for Christmas. One neighborhood in a small city gathers together every New Year to clean up their community park. One city within a state, within a country, within a continent, within each tiny crevice of the world, is doing something, worrying about something, changing something.

Whoosh. The little racing cars on the busy highway never stop, never broaden their view. Never reach out and unite themselves with their fellow civilization.

Though each little racing car may be unique, they are still the same. It doesn’t matter where they have been, what color they are, or where they are going. In the end, they all fit together to create miracles and devastation.

If only they would slow down, roll down their tightly shut windows and listen, only then would they see the shapes materialize from the blurs they once were, hear the sounds of steps on gravel rather than the wind howling in their ears, and open their hearts to the world.