I’ve covered trains, I believe. Let’s drop them for a couple of weeks. Time to target something I love just as much: highways. Where the whole universe suddenly shrinks down to however wide the road and the visible landscape around is, so that you can be sure you’re focusing on the right things.
Got those highway blues, can’t you hear my motor runnin’
Flyin’ down the road with my foot on the floor
All the way in town they can hear me comin’
Ford’s about to drop, she won’t do no more
This wonderful verse comes from Doobie Brothers’ song “Rockin’ down the highway”, for those of you who didn’t know. There hasn’t been a personal playlist that I made which didn’t include this song since 2004. It’s powerful, energizing, melodically perfect, and of course – close to my heart. Not so much because, as it is later told in the song, I have a history of the police chasing me, nor do I burn my Ford’s engine on a regular basis. To be honest, I don’t even drive a Ford. But we agree on something that is important enough to make me and the Doobie Brothers brothers: my God, aren’t highways just… perfect?
I like to think I had my fair share of highways on my path. Never enough, sure, but you know, we’re used to each other, me and highways. Never travelled the desert so far, but I will. Call it a dream. Meanwhile, I do “rock down” the highways regularly. Highways of all shapes and sizes, and I just can’t get enough. It’s not something that I can fully explain, like many of the things I’ve discussed before. But it’s just one of the most relaxing and pleasant experiences there is, for me.
Mountain roads, where even the highways can become as dangerous as streets of a big city, or long, straight roads across grasslands and fields, doesn’t matter. There’s magic in them all. I know, because I’ve seen enough of them to know. As a driver, I’ve never been bored on a highway. There’s too much to love, and so too much you could miss if you don’t try to look for those lovable things.
I can’t say exactly what is so enjoyable about it, because I seem to like every part, every element of travelling on a highway in its own way. Driving a car is something I’ve always loved, because I’m an excellent casual driver, not sure if I mentioned that before. Driving fast when the road is wide is just fantastic. You feel so free, so mighty, so disconnected from everything that is happening outside of the road. Only you, and people around you, whom if you gained the highway’s trust, you’ll quickly overtake thanks to its blessing, and that in itself has often prooven itself weirdly satisfying. And seeing the landscape around changing so fast, that while you can’t really enjoy every point, every view, you immediately start to consider the visible world around you as something that defines this specific road. If you’ll learn to appreciate it, you will realize it’s not a noise in the background, but a music that plays throughout the experience of driving. A theme, if you will, where it’s not individual notes that are the most important, but the composition. Speaking of music, the actual music can improve the experience even further. It doesn’t take much to make a playlist, but to make a proper playlist, well, that requires either talent or knowledge. Currently, there are, if I remember correctly, seventeen CDs in my car, which I all made. The same songs can appear on different CDs of course, but each playlist has its own character, and is therefore meant for a different type of road. Now, after hours of driving, stops must be made. Short breaks to stretch your legs, you know what I mean. And if you’re as weird as me, you know that parking lots at highways have their own feeling. Maybe it’s knowing that your journey is still happening, maybe it’s something else, like the cars passing by, the people from all around with their own journeys. But it just smells different, you know? When you look around, you still see the music that the landscape creates, not the specific view. And because of that, I can’t help but see these stops as part of the trip, as in integral, almost indistinguishable from any other part of driving down the highway.
I’m sure most drivers recognize the need and the beauty of “taking a ride to clear the head”. If you’re one of them, you get the essence of what I’m talking about. The atmosphere of driving, alone or not, where you put your mind just to the driving and the road before you, and you enter that state of seeing everything happening as being related to the journey, by filtering all the outside stimuli through the mind focused on a single thing, which creates the experience of relaxation, calmness, satisfaction. That experience can be stronger, if you learn to recreate this attitude on the highway, regardless of whether you’re just taking a ride, or trying to get somewhere with a purpose, and so you manage to put yourself in that state on a proper highway, since that’s where the greatest power lies.
To be honest, personally I didn’t even have to learn to do this. This is what “driving” has always been to me, it came naturally the moment I first sat in the car after recieving my licence. Maybe it’s my natural calmness? Maybe I’m a careless driver, who was just lucky enough to avoid accidents for long enough to start considering this careless driving something that it’s not? Nah, that’s not it. I know, because I’m an excellent casual driver.