It is interesting to see how limited our minds are when it comes to grasping basic things such as distance. How far away is the nearest town, what's the distance between London and Paris? How far to that grocery store there on the corner? How far away is my love when he is not with me?
Sure we can all learn the numbers, 100 kilometres here or 2 000 miles there, or just 200 metres down the block, or parsec and AU and light years and nanometres. We can easily figure out the distance to the sun and the stars, after all it's just mathematics. (All right, with some astronomy as well, when it comes to stars.) But do we truly understand those numbers, emotionally, and not just intellectually?
Space and time are one they say, inseparable and each others' equals in the grand scale of things, and there may well be regions out there where time flies differently from what we are used to, here. But what is time, then, exactly? Here the roles seem reversed, where we seem to have a better grasp of the actual role time plays, but fail to truly explain the nature of time.
One book mentioned the inuits measuring distance not in a fixed length but in sinik,
sleep, the number of nights needed for the travel. It varies depending on the weather and season, and the condition of the travellers. Maybe that is, after all, closer to how we instinctively measure distance. "It takes three hours by train" rather than "it's 400 kilometres from here". How far to the store? - well, about ten minutes on foot. And the nearest town? - it's about half an hour by car, if you're not stuck in too much traffic. This we can relate to, and after all, if you're trying to figure out when to leave for a meeting, this is what matters, not the actual physical distance covered.
So we live in a strange little corner of this fourdimensional spacetime universe, boxed in on one end by distances that we can intellectually comprehend but not intuitively grasp, and on the other end by time itself, of which we have a more intuitive understanding but utterly fail to explain intellectually. What a wonderful world...