We love the speed of machines. All around us, machines expedite the tedious, shorten the wait, and free up our time for other pursuits. And the less time things take, the happier we are. So, unsurprisingly, we wish to make life imitate machines by speeding up natural processes as well. Many busy women would love to shorten their pregnancies, for example. Since that’s impossible, some turn to surrogate mothers to do the job for them. But the unfolding of life – the development of a town, the ripening of an idea, the preparation of a meal – can no more be accelerated than a pregnancy. We can try to pretend otherwise, but all we achieve by trying to hurry things up is to distort life, to reduce it to a mechanical process that ultimately destroys the very ground of belonging.