I Drive. Therefore I Am.
Posted by Joe Dinki on May 1, 2003 - 1:00:00 PM
The majority of Americans drive their car more than they do anything else. More than they pay attention to their children or make love to their spouse and nearly as much as they watch TV or play sports.
No matter what you do, you usually drive your car to get there. So ingrained in our day to day routine is driving that we take it for granted.
If only our ancient ancestors (whose lives were measured by the distance they had to travel to merely survive; migrating meager miles to find food, traversing distances that would take them years to accomplish) could see us zooming around in crates of steel and plastic at blinding speeds, stereo blaring or shock jocks bantering on the radio, drive-through windows full of fast food beckoning. I wonder what they would say?
I think they would say: Aooooo, wa wa wa wa! Where is everyone going?
I'm not sure where everyone is going but I'm certain that by the way we drive that we are all going there differently. Why we drive is not as important as how we drive. See, driving is linked to our view of ourselves and our world around us. Driving is a singular experience for the individual driver, a Zen like transcendence of existence, a personal one on one practice where more than the rubber meets the road, it's where our souls become intrinsically bound with asphalt, speed and movement.
1.Those darn Alman Brothers. Just about any song they do makes you want to drive. That even goes for Andrea Bocelli or any kind of music. Our CDs and tapes are the soundtracks for the movie of movement unfolding outside our windshields. Our interiors, our private sound studio where we can sing along to our heart's content, oblivious to the reality that we truly look foolish doing so.
2. Speed. Speed is addictive because, well our souls are ephemeral bits of light and thought that know no boundaries; the experience of driving is the closet we come to blending our physical reality with our intrinsic unbridled essence.
3. You are not you when you drive. Our cars have become our outer armor, our little Trojan Horses. We feel omnipotent, alive, vibrant, strong, resilient and somewhat deceptive when we drive. Its okay. There's a certain amount of escapism in the driving experience -- you are one with the vehicle which is part of a larger collective experience pulsating in movement, lights and speed, unlike your non-driving life where you're just a regular schmoe like the rest of us.
4. Going through the car wash. Why do we feel that when our cars are clean, so are we? Where does that feeling of redemption and renewal come from when we emerge from the car wash? Don't question it, it is way too complex.
5. Drive-through windows. For many of us who live to drive and drive to live, there is nothing better than eating on the run. Devouring car food, stuff we normally would never eat anywhere else: hamburgers, tacos and greasy doughnuts and coffee all providing the fuel that keeps us alert and ready for any challenge behind the wheel.
6. Power windows. I don't know about you, but I still get a kick at the modernity of the standard power window; I feel like George Jetson whenever I want to let a little air in. Add to that the use of the cellular phone and well the future is now; you are poised at the cutting edge of new technology and freedom. Now stop playing with all that stuff and pay attention to the road, because the laws of communication and space and time have changed but physics hasn't. A concrete abutment is still a concrete abutment.
7. Road Rage. Why do we take it so personally when someone who never met us, talked to us or can even see us, cuts us off, speeds by us or flashes their lights at us because we are driving too slow? Driving is our one truly expressive art form, and other drivers our harshest critics -- it cuts to the bone when our most visible expression of self in our environment is criticized too harshly.
8. That new car smell. A smell of renewal, of success, of comfort. The smells of a mobile living room offering security and comfort as we whiz down the highways and byways of our collective American dream.
9. Driving at night. All that darkness spilt and illuminated by our ubiquitous headlights cutting a path through the mystery that is the night; our senses heightened by the focus of the road rolling out and unraveling only yards at a time before our eyes. The ultimate virtual reality display.
10. The heater or air conditioner. The climate mastered, regulated and controlled at the push of a button. Summer in the winter, winter in the summer. Who says we can't play God once in a while?
11. Driving is a gamble. We actually put our lives and the lives of others in the hand of fate and providence every time we get behind the wheel. We become players in the biggest gambling event ever created. An asphalt casino where you hang on to the hope that the other person behind the wheel is paying less attention to his or her CD player or shock jock, or that they have left their aggressive natures at home or that they haven't been drinking or they are not really eating when the drive or yapping on the cell phone and they see you or realize that they are traveling at speeds that are unnatural to our frail human existence. I suggest, everyone just slow down, pay attention to the road and everyone will enjoy that new car smell for years to come.