When I was a kid I heard about how the earth rotated every 24 hours, and they said it actually moved quite quickly, even though we are apparently hypnotized into not feeling it.
I had this very clear concept that if you could get up above the town, higher than the tops of the trees and above Richland Bank, and stay up there off the planet for a while, the world would go rushing by underneath and after a little while you could come down and you’d be out west somewhere without ever having really left.
I thought it was a brilliant idea and couldn’t really imagine why no one had tried it yet, so I asked my geology teacher about it.
They always say in class that there is no such thing as a stupid question but I had a geology teacher whose face said otherwise. Her words did however, do the right thing and she explained, as if to someone who didn’t speak the language, that when the planet moved the atmosphere went with it.
I had not the foggiest sense of what that was supposed to mean. For some reason she was using some kind of doubletalk to discourage me from trying out my idea.
I was willing to accept her word at face value as far as that went, but I never stopped believing; never stopped dreaming. If anything, the facts only made me more curious: what was out there in the planet due west of here? What would I see if the world spun eastward underneath me while I hovered over Mansfield’s place on the globe?
Right away I got an almanac and looked up the latitude of our city—its exact distance from the equator—because I knew that the latitudinal line extended clear around the Earth through all the places that would pass through the Mansfield coordinates.
It is 40.7584° N.
And I did the math: the earth at the Mansfield level of northern hemisphere is approximately 18,887 miles in circumference, so in order for it all to pass by within 24 hours it must move at around 787 miles per hour.
So if I went up over the Square at high noon, by only 12:30 PM I would be over top of Peoria IL…or it would be passing underneath me.
At that rate the first tourist stop would be at approximately 2 PM: that is when Salt Lake City would go by under my feet.
There are mountains surrounding the Utah capital however, so before the Utah earth could pass below me I would have to ascend considerably from where I launched at the Richland Bank building.
Mansfield is 1241 feet above sea level; the Utah peaks standing directly between here and there are over 9,000 feet, and the continental divide could entail at least another 1,000 feet above that.
I read that the Richland Bank building is 98.22 feet tall, so my hovering device needs to rise 100 times the bank in order to see into Salt Lake City.
12 Noon By train it used to take overnight to get from New York to Mansfield; driving time is around 8 hours. You can fly there in about an hour and a half. If you simply hover on the 40.7584° N. parallel while the earth whizzes by at 787 MPH it takes only 33 minutes.
What to make of this:
The important point to ponder here is this: physicists since Einstein have been telling us that time doesn’t really exist; that it is an illusion we humans have adopted in order to keep existence orderly and more easy to keep track of.
In reality, all of everything is happening all at once: which means that all of these vastly different places on the globe are occupying our Mansfield space right now, at this very moment.
Beijing, Pompeii, the Mormon Tabernacle, the Empire State Building: they are all part of our 40.7584 continuum somehow.
It should be theoretically possible for you to step out your driveway into the smoke and ashes of Vesuvius, if you simply sidestep the dictates of the 24 hour clock.
It’s all a matter of perspective.
It’s a lot like going to Oz: a whole new world without ever even having to leave home.
In my latitude journey I didn’t travel around the world: the world came right to me.
It turns out Mansfield is a place of many layers; many secret and hidden worlds all in one: both exotic and romantic, ancient in tradition, steeped in culture.