In So Many Words

Books of Educational and Informational Comics from Larry Paros


Book VIII: Making IT (Success)

Running Starts

Life has a way of putting you through your paces — testing your abilities by asking you to display the full range of your talents.

The original paces at the beginning of the 18th Century were the training steps or gaits — trot, canter, and gallop — which a horse was put through.

Speed was not a consideration. Speed, in fact, conveyed an entirely different meaning than the one with which we are most familiar. It originally meant "success" and "good fortune," explaining why people once wished each other "Godspeed."

Things picked up, however, around 1871. Because the race invariably went to the swiftest, the meaning of speed shifted, denoting first the pace in general, and then "rapidity."

To enhance our speed we created the fast track. Originally an open railway route for express trains carrying perishable items; it later described a horse track that was hard and dry (hence fast). It was the predecessor to the fast lane (c.1976) to which so many upcoming professionals today aspire.

Fast lanes and high-speed lanes stress speed both on the interstates and in the corporate world. They're not for everyone however. Control is difficult to maintain and crashes occur frequently.

Fast-breaking news (c.1937), people: The primary definition of fast has nothing to do with rapidity. The steadfast person is one who stands firmly in his beliefs and is not easily shaken. Colors hold fast when they do not run, easily fade or wash out. These are the real attributes of being fast.

When all is said and done, Perhaps people's skills might be better suited to a more measured pace.

Folks today, however, continue apace, determined to set a speed record and outdo each other. We speed dial, speed read, and rise rapidly through the ranks — but with little sense of where it is we are actually going; to which we can only wish them "Godspeed."