There was a time in my life when, because I worked as a residential trainee appraiser, I drove twice as much as the average US male in the 20-34 age group. While taxi drivers will laugh at this number, I maintain that 36,000 miles per year on a combination of city streets and highways is a formidable distance for any human to travel on four wheels.
Formidable and downright wasteful. I did not learn much on the road, partly because I didn’t bother to fiddle with the radio, partly because I didn’t have an auxiliary input for my iPod, and, what I will say is the largest part, because I was alone in an uninspirational place where my only preoccupation was keeping my life intact.
So I drove mile after mile in silence, the hum of my Honda Civic comparable to the drone of a professor at the podium, except I wasn’t sitting in a classroom where the only real danger was for the tentacles of ivy on the window panes to vine their way around my neck and strangle me; no, I was on the road with a pack of crazies, and the purr of the engine had no lesson to teach, even after 36,000 miles worth of classroom hours.
To some, the experience of driving this much might seem therapeutic, as if the sound of the engine unwinds you, like Baoding balls going around and around the center of your palm. I applaud your ability to milk the roads for whatever meditative wisdom they possess, but for me it is a detestable experience that I would rather do without.
That said, it follows that in my case it isn’t about getting a job that, so long as I drive to and from work everyday, will give me financial security, but rather finding gainful employment that will minimize time spent on the road. Again and again I will choose the latter form of employment over the job that requires driving, and I will make this choice sparing no costs, all in an effort to someday reach absolute minimization.
Maybe not the wisest decision according to my financial planner, but, nevertheless, a decision I will not regret.
Driving stunts our growth in the same way that jumping imprudently off a high tree branch would stunt our spine. There is absolutely nothing we can do in a car, not a single activity that will make the experience even the least bit edifying. Everytime we buckle up inside a car, we can no longer debate over whether or not we’re dumb; it is a forgone conclusion, where it is the pronoun to take the place of our ignorance.
I know we have to be practical about it. I know we live in an era of urban sprawl and perpetual building and rebuilding of roads, and driving has become a necessity. But, if everyone out there really gives it a little thought, a way of life will dawn on us that takes the variable, time spent on the road, and minimizes it, and it’s not enough to minimize this variable once, but keep on minimizing until it reaches zero. What do you say? Grassroots movement?