After my last post, you might think that I am completely opposed to being cooped up in a coupe or sequestered in a sedan. The truth is that is not the truth. Most of the time, I enjoy driving quite a bit for several reasons.
Driving is a multi-purpose activity. It gets us where we want to go and can be exhilarating in the process. Now, when you say “exhilarating,” most people think that involves speed. It can, sure. But, for me, it usually involves music, conversation, thinking time, or a combination of the three. In other words, its time where I try not to be embroiled in managing people or situations or checking tasks off my list. Driving time can be, if you work at it, a little bit of “me time.”
On average, I estimate I drive somewhere in the neighborhood of 25,000 miles a year. That’s a lot. A lot of time for music and conversation and thinking. But I like that.
As with most of the people I know, I love to listen to music while I drive. You might say my musical palate is eclectic. My tastes include a wide variety of musical genres, artists, styles, volumes, and tempos. Each has a time and a place, but I kind of like letting XM radio or my iPhone do the shuffling most of the time when I drive and just see what thoughts, memories, or emotions come to the surface to help keep me exhilarated as I navigate the streets and byways.
It might by a little Guns N’ Roses or Van Halen or AC/DC followed by, dare I admit it, Barry Manilow or the Bee Gees or Air Supply. See what I mean? That’s a pretty wide spread. By the same token, I enjoy hearing choirs sing hymns and long-haired rockers sing love ballads. One minute, I might be enjoying hip hop, the next I’m singing along with Pink or Rick Astley or the Gap Band. Strange how Eminem can speak to me one moment and Whitney Houston the next. But when I’m alone in my car with my playlist rolling, no one can tell me that’s wrong or weird. And it all helps the miles go by quickly or the traffic woes fade into the background, especially when I’m alone or all my passengers are sleeping.
Lost Art Form
When they’re not asleep, I love to talk. That age-old form of communication that is quickly losing ground to man-made, so-called “smart” devices that are creating more connections than ever, but also separating us more than ever. Remember talking? Remember when that’s all we had other than pen and paper or the old electric typewriter? I’m trying to keep that ancient art form alive in my household. Usually, my kids don’t complain too much and my wife still enjoys it.
She is my most frequent shotgun seat passenger. We’ve spent a lot of time together in the two front seats of various cars through the years. We’ve driven hundreds of thousands of miles together, by my spurious calculations. Sometimes we talk, sometimes we don’t. Not because we’re not on speaking terms, but because we don’t need to. Silence can be just as comfortable sometimes. But our conversations during those long drives are priceless despite the fact that I can’t remember the content of very many of them. Same goes for my kids. Trapping them in a vehicle with their dad and forcing them to talk may seem cruel to some, but for me, the dad, those are the times we’ve had some of our best chats and bonding moments. I love that time we’ve had together.
Then there are the times when I’m driving alone. Just me and my thoughts. That can be scary, depending on the kind of day or week I’ve had. Thoughts can range from trying to be helpful in some way to wishing I could punch someone in the face, especially the idiot who just cut me off. Road rage is a terrible thing and I do my best to not fall into that trap, with varying degrees of success. I’m getting better, which is either a function of age or a result of my, uh, Zen-like self-mastery. Yes, I can hear the laughter from my family now.
I spend some of my daily drive time to and from the office planning out my work time or my family time. Sometimes I try to solve the world’s problems in my head. Sometimes I day dream. That’s a fun pastime because it mysteriously helps me vent some stress. Or, I think about pleasant memories or people I really admire or things I’d like to do, both short-term and long-range. Most of the time, though, I selfishly try to solve the problems I face and figure out how to do things better and be better as a person.
So, driving time can be very productive, relaxing, reinvigorating, and, even without the suped-up sports car, exhilarating.
That’s why I like to drive.
Be safe out there.
How about you? Do love it or hate it? Why? Leave a comment below.
To read more about the art of driving, see: