Time is supposed to be the way the universe keeps everything from happening all at once. My wife and I were in London in 2016, and we made a point to see The Fighting Temeraire by Joseph Mallord William Turner. London has endless museums. So for a time, we were taking it all in with small doses, searching out specific works, and this was one. I could feel time passing in The Fighting Temeraire, slowly then quickly.
After many a battle, the Temeraire is towed to the breakers, having been sold for scrap. A steamship, a lowly tug, is pulling it to its eventual resting place. Technology has moved along, sails soon enough a thing of the past.
Past scenes come to mind after staring at The Fighting Temeraire a while, soaking it in. I had walked under and crawled around in the Space Shuttle Atlantis once upon a time. Then, time moved slowly. But as happens when endings approach, time suddenly feels sped up. That was the case as I stood by the roadside in 2012. Then, Atlantis was towed to its processing facility, victory parade and all, to be prepared for the museum at Kennedy Space Center.
The following year I attended the soft opening of the museum. Atlantis was now suspended on discrete beams. The tour guide’s voice was a distant hum of inane tidbits. Was it the usual about the seconds it would take for the Shuttle’s engines to empty a backyard pool? I could have been in London years later, hearing how it took 5,000 oak trees to build a ship like the Temeraire. Instead, here was Atlantis, frozen forever in a semblance of motion.
Seeing Atlantis and years later The Fighting Temeraire, and soon after a Falcon 9 booster on its drone ship, I can’t help but see it all blur over as one. Turn the page.
All pictures, credit Edgar Zapata, zapatatalksnasa.com