We have lost the taste for perception. We want to see everything, with the greatest clarity, and not miss a single detail. Energy, transportation, mobility, information, connectivity, speed, resolution, zoom: these days everything is an effort to bring things closer, as if distance had suddenly become the enemy.
At beginning of this 21st century not having everything at hand is a sign of backwardness and a reason to be ashamed, and not knowing everything for certain is also frowned upon or “badly seen.” However, we forget that everything which is seen badly or incorrectly always leads to a potentially new idea, precisely because that idea is the result of a free interpretation. We choose to ignore that simple observation, with all its known limitations, can be much richer than experimentation; and that our sight, as imperfect as it is, invites our imagination, while every other complete experience, by means of its inherent process of verification, ends up beating all possible fantasy.
But isn’t it true that the fog inspires a greater mystery when we observe it from the foot of a mountain than when we walk to the top and can hardly perceive it as a faint mist? Is it not true that when we get to the top, what we were interested in is no longer there and what then intrigues us is, once again, in the distance, in the enormous distance that can be covered from our new elevated position? And if we look at the sea when we travel by road along the coast, isn't it true that only from a distance can we appreciate all the shades of blue that depth and light can project on the surface of the water, and that if we stand on the beach that monochrome rainbow mixes suddenly in a single marine hue?
The battle between imagination and reality has the ability to both amaze and disappoints us, as a constant irony that we inevitably witness every time we compare what we perceive with what we know. The vast majority of people don’t know how to behave when they face such contradiction. They get confused by what they admire with their eyes but cannot hold in their hands, and what they observe from afar is not enough to amend their poverty of mind. These people are not able to remain still, but are driven by the anguish to encompass everything. They seek to get as close as they can, either physically or through simulation with screens, lenses, cameras and other devices that they build themselves in order to transform the concept of proximity into a constant feeling.
That kind of dissatisfied person believes that if the blue of the sea is so bright from so far away, much more should it be if he is able to reach it and gets to bathe in its waters. And he always want to be there, because being is simply another way of having. He believes it is best to cut distances and, while looking at the sea from a distance, choses to go down the road that leads to the beach. But when he reaches the shore, distance grants him the first lesson: standing on the sand his feet are covered time and again by diluted waves of colorless water. He realizes the blue has disappeared and, although he doesn’t fully comprehend the illusion, he continues to move forward with the hope of grasping some of it. And so he goes a little further, until the sea surrounds him around the waist, and when he looks down he notices with great disappointment that the turquoise blue he saw from the road is no longer on the surface of the water, but has now moved to the bottom. Even more desperate now he swims offshore and dives trying to hunt down the elusive blue. Suspended among the waters, floating weightless, he stops and looks around: now it’s a different shade of blue, a deeper and darker one, that surrounds his body from all possible angles. Up, down, left and right are blue. He extends his arms, shakes them stirring the water and stretching them as much as he can, but he fails one more time to touch that new color he was chasing. And it’s right there, underwater and completely alone, when he finally understands the warning that distance wanted to give him from the beginning. But it’s too late now and he has nowhere to go. In the middle of the sea he has run out of air and has drowned himself.
Every insatiable and possessive man travels the distance in vain only to realize that between here and there exists an impossible space made of an insurmountable void. Too many impulsive people drown by this same impertinence, while only a few know how to remain on shore, observing quietly, appreciating the reward that distance is willing to give them in exchange for their respect, for staying still and not going after it. Only the cautious people, as indispensable as they are scarce nowadays, know about the importance of space and its conservation. Only they understand that what stays at a distance is something to gain, because true disappointment often comes with proximity. These people have in their hands that real and imaginary space, as mysterious and extraordinary as we want it to be, which is always available to be observed, but never to be touched.