Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Where does that highway lead to?"

Much has been written about the American love affair with the car and the road. Driving today in the blazing sun I thought of the continuous highway that stretches beyond anything I might imagine. For it is all connected, every part of the landscape, trees, dirt, rocks, creatures within, and as it stretches on it is all simultaneously present from one moment to the next.

I cannot imagine what a discovery it may have been to someone how the automobile gave instant access to a continuous stream of high speed simultaneously present images stretching as far as the horizon and constantly unfolding.

This is the dream and the freedom of the car and the highway, thanks to the Eisenhower Interstate System of the 1950s. But what of the reality? I counted my blessings with a clear roadway ahead while traffic was backed up for countless miles in the other direction and thought sometime that will be my situation. There are many ways of dealing with it, here is one.

I'll be doing this every day driving to work. I would like not to be asleep to it, indifferent to it, hostile to it, but my mind has other ideas and obsessions. The highway is traffic, commerce, inconvenient construction, consumption of finite fossil fuels, discarded trash, slow decay, impact of weather, tolls, human conflict, silence, eternity, now.

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