Today as I was driving through the countryside I got to thinking. Well, thinking and singing. Thinging? (Insert snort-laugh here.) The two most common ways I while away the hours of driving, besides obviously concentrating on the road, are indeed thinking and singing. Since I finished program and thusly did away with the near-daily hour-long commute, I’ve actually missed the quiet time to ponder life’s little intricacies. Some of my best brainwaves hit me behind the wheel. Some people say they do their best thinking (and singing, actually) in the shower. Personally, I favour driving to indulge my wandering mind and dusty vocal chords. Maybe it’s because I’m more awake, or maybe there’s something about the blue sky and the miles and miles of cornfields that force my hand in coming up with something interesting to think about.
A problem with doing my best thinking on the road is that sometimes the inspiration bubble pops as soon as I emerge from the silver shell of wonder. When I pull that handle and step out onto the pavement, into the heat, my plans have a tendency to fizzle. Not that I don’t sometimes carry the inspiration I’ve discovered while shifting from fourth to fifth into my day, but there are times when leaving the sanctuary of the vehicle and emerging into the hustle-bustle of the world does away with serene thoughts. The thoughts I ponder on my drives are sometimes just that-serene, and fleeting. Other times, I feel angry behind the wheel, regardless of the stupidity level of other drivers on the road. Sometimes I laugh off someone cutting me off, and sometimes it drives me up the wall and causes me to utter obscenities and be thankful that no one can actually hear me. It’s all a matter of headspace, the mood within the car.
I didn’t always see driving as an opportunity to think. In fact, I resisted getting my liscence and even after I had gotten it, refused to drive my parents’ stick shift cars. After a few months’ resistence, I finally sat behind the wheel and dove into the world of motorized transportation one stall at a time. I resented the need to downshift at stop signs and the way my attention seemed to need to be in many places at once. I refused to drive in the country, I hated driving at night. I wouldn’t highway drive, and I certainly took other’s offers of rides more often than I offered myself. I had a horrendous sense of direction, getting myself lost within the city I had lived in for my whole life. When I learned I’d have to drive myself to and from program last fall, I shuddered at the thought of the commute. Begrudingly, I slowly edged myself onto the copious hours behind the wheel, having my parents drive me as often as possible. Eventually, I drove myself every day- in snowstorms, in rain showers, in the fog, in the dark. Little by little I came to experiment with different routes. I developed some directional skill for the first time in my life. I sang showtunes in the morning to perk myself up for a day full of therapy. I listened to John Mayer on the way home to calm my spinning head. The drive became what I never thought it would be- second nature. I used the drive as my transition from program-mode to home-mode, and began to actually enjoy the quiet space and time carved out of my day.
Driving is just another one of those things that I came to acknowledge as a part of my life. My relationship with my little car and my resistence to embrace it points out a characteristic I’m not proud of- my perfectionism. For the longest time, I thought that I was horrible at driving and directionally challenged, so I hated doing it. I learned, in time, that though I might still not be the person to ask for directions to anywhere but program, I can learn to enjoy things I’m not “perfect” at. And that just got me to thinking, this morning while I drove- what else might I miss out on if I don’t first give it a fair try?