“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
Right up there with hamburgers, Baseball, and nouveau-colonialism, a quintessential American trope is the road trip.
No other country is so equipped to host road trips. Sure, there are countries with better roads, cheaper gas, more interesting scenery, but none combine all these elements in quite the right way. America is a country birthed over decades from one colossal road trip with multiple endpoints. The great tide of other nations, that swept the continent and finally crashed upon the western coast, left in its wake a thousand little rivulets. America has more roads than any other country on the planet: six and a half million miles of them.
It isn’t just the practicals that make this the land of road trips, however. At the heart of the whole experience is a frenetic, buoyant, hopeful spirit that epitomizes the best of the American national psyche. That feeling that if you just hop in your car and put the foot down till you’ve escaped the grasping clutches of the city you’ll find something good a little down the road. A sense of infinite possibility: elevation through lateral movement.
The actual fact of it is that wherever you go, there you are. There’s no magic waiting at the next gas station. The important thing is the road, not the destination.
I’ve been in love with the road trip — mythology and practicality — for years, but this is a lesson that I’ve only gradually realized can be applied to life in general.
Now is important, tomorrow will come soon enough.
Remembering that is an everyday challenge that you could take a lifetime to master. Stop peering into the distance trying to see over the next hill. The moments we look forward to only exist in the present. Trying to imagine them into being before their time is futile. Matching them against unattainable unachieved possibilities sours even the most pleasant.
What’s going on today?
Published on March 5th, 2014