Rounding the bend on I-80 East, the summits of the snowy Sierras are magically unveiled like curtains parting to reveal a beautiful day; coasting along the spectacular vistas of Highway 1, the waves below crash against the cliffs, a signature landscape of Northern California beaches. Of course, there’s also the not-so-scenic endless dry and desolate expanse of Highway 5 across Nevada, where the road’s parallel white lines converge into a single point in the distance. And while not every mile carries with it immense beauty, the pure feeling of being “on the road” will always evoke in me a feeling of sentimental satisfaction.
Mount Lassen, Yosemite, Colorado — the journey to these locations taught me the value of time spent in the car. While other children complained, I saw time to finally partake in the quiet activities that I loved, away from the distractions, school, television, that usually kept me from them. I read books, learned the lyrics to songs by heart, created fictional worlds, and poured my soul out to the awaiting pages of various journals. Between activities, I gazed out the window reading signs and observing scenery. Or I simply shut my eyes and listened to the distant conversations of my parents.
The vehicle that carried me has changed over years. From the boxy, white Ford Aerostar, “Vincent Van-Go”, to simply “Q” the Nissan Quest, to CeCe, my very own ‘97 Honda Civic. While the vehicle has shuffled and the destination varies, the feeling a good old-fashioned road trip evokes in me rests unwavering.
On our latest trip that took place over winter break, I was finally deemed competent enough of a driver to take the wheel for short periods of time. (Quite an accomplishment, for my dad doesn’t abandon the driver’s seat easily.) I soon fell into a nearly effortless ease, pondering the soothing effect driving has on the mind. Any problems that may plague the mind seem to disappear, which is why driving is a state of mind in which I am completely content. The road ahead of you is the focal point, where the majority of thought is focused, while the mind is still able to wander just a little and allow for peaceful contemplation: the ability to think about different feelings and emotions without entirely giving into them.
Most people think very little of being in the car, be it behind the wheel or otherwise. We are simply too preoccupied to consider anything other than getting from Point A to Point B. And isn’t that what a car is for, anyway? Yes; it is, but a car is also a vessel that perpetuates family, self-reliance, and inner peace.