Roads, to me, are about connecting not just places, but people. And if I had to pick just three things that changed human history, they would be fire, the wheel, and the knowledge and development of roads (I know, there are plenty to choose from, but still). Roads started off as trails, which animals (and humans) used to frequently. With the knowledge of engineering (“the wheel”), roads became better.
And soon, they became the greatest means of communication and exchange of ideas that ever existed.
The growth of roads are typically accompanied by a splurge in development. First some one opens a gas station. Then a refreshment stand, or a restaurant pops up. Then some one opens a little garage next to it. Then some one else decides to open a convenience store right next to it. Soon the town is booming. People and ideas pass by, and the town learns from all of it.
That fantastic animation studio, Pixar, used this simple concept to come up with the excellent Cars. Route 66 means a lot in American history. It was the road that connected the east to the west,
And then something happened. The interstates were built. Roads, which were meant to connect people, and link towns, somehow started bypassing them. Thriving little towns were literally “missed” by the interstates, and as people sped from one place to the other on the interstates, the little towns were lost, and almost frozen in time.
Cars, of course, is a classic old fashioned movie. But it hits home. As we rush by on the interstate, thousands of people are simply left behind. They know there is change, and they know that they are missing out on the change. But there is little they can do to remain linked to that change, and that rush towards progress.
A metaphor for a lot of things perhaps.
I appreciate the interstate freeways, but there certainly is something to be said about roads that link people, and not rush by. And I hope as
(And go ahead, take a moment and watch the inimitable Nat King Cole sing Bobby Troup’s route 66)