ZOOM! The Sound of Progress

16 Jan
I can ZOOM! Really I can. I'm just driving a smaller car, so it takes me longer to get there.

I can ZOOM! Really I can. Maybe I’m just driving a smaller car, so it may take me a while to get where I want to go.

ZOOM: How can one word mean two seemingly opposite things? I wondered. Etymology has become one of my passions since embarking on writing a story that takes place 300 years ago. I love how learning the origin of a word gives precise, seductively nuanced clues as to its evolved meaning.

ZOOM is what’s called of echoic origin. It was first derived from the onomatopoetic sound it makes, starting in the late 19th century as industrial machines–and the very world itself–were getting faster. The word became more commonly used during the Golden Age of Aviation in reference to the sound pilots heard as they made an accelerated turn or ascent.

Change and speed remain the essential elements. A ZOOM climb requires full throttle. Anything less, and you might stall or even fall.

The invention of the ZOOM lens in the late thirties began the word’s alternative connotation, seemingly contradictory yet actually congruent upon closer inspection. When we–our vehicle, our lens, our minds–move quickly, we get closer to destinations once far away. That then allows us to focus in with microscopic clarity.

DSCN0019There’s a time and place for both ZOOMs. For example, planning and rough draft phases require a powerful rapidity of movement. Heavy throttle.

This is a challenge for me. I tend to search for shapes in the clouds while I’m trying to fly. Editing and playing with words is what I love best. ZOOMing in. But I’ve found that I simply can’t do that and make the progress I want at the same time. When I try, I just don’t reach enough speed to ever lift off the ground.

Throughout this month’s power word challenge from the Muse so far, I’ve been chanting ZOOM! to help me focus on one important task at hand before jumping to others. It seems simple, but it really has helped me check daily things off my to-do list in priority order. Yet even more, ZOOM! has been and will remain my 2013 mantra to counter my obsessive detail binges with complementary doses of accelerated ascents, blissfully blurry and unfettered by the stalling impediments of perfectionism.

Which is the greater challenge for you? To go fast or to focus? When we balance both in our projects, our lives, we can truly move. And to this slow-moving Muse-seeker, more progress with my novel in 2013 would be music to my ears. Or to paraphrase King Solomon and The Byrds:

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to ZOOM up, a time to ZOOM in 
A time to go fast, a time to look close
A time to fly, a time to land
A time to progress, I swear it’s not too late

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One Response to “ZOOM! The Sound of Progress”

  1. pursuingthemuse January 18, 2013 at 2:03 am #

    Great post, Tracey! I love etymology too. I like the visual of getting enough speed to lift off the ground.

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