Cockpit View

Owning more than one car means having more than one start-up routine. On my cars it can range from having to pump the gas before turning the key, waiting more than two minutes to warm up, or opening the hood because the damn battery didn’t hold its charge again. Even on my modern daily driver I feel the need to wait 30 seconds before shifting into gear to allow the fluids to circulate and prevent wear and tear. All these moments spent in the car before setting off allows my mind to wander off for a few minutes and forget about the daily grind. I’ve always loved driving, even before I could reach the pedals I knew it was something special. Even some non-Gearheads have told me they love going on drives to just clear their heads of a stressful situation or hectic day. Few things in this world can wash the day away better than the combination of an empty stretch of road, a car, and favorite playlist on the radio.

So the other day I was having one of those particular days where you just wake up with a chip on your shoulder. Could have been from an odd dream or not resting enough during my sleep, but that day every little thing was sending my mind into a hurricane of annoyance and disgust. Let’s face it, we all have problems and schedules to keep up and sooner or later it gets to us and end up waking up on the wrong side of the bed. After I was done with school for the day I walked to my little Mazda with a plan on driving somewhere to go get something to eat, but not sure what I was in the mood for. As I turned the key and waiting for the 30 second rule, my mind wandered and came back with a thought that completely mellowed me out.

In life, we are rarely in a situation where we have a task or a chore to complete and have everything we need at arm’s reach to handle it. If its school you might have to go to a library or search the internet for the material you need to study or complete your homework. At work, you might have to drive to different locations, work with co-workers, or deal with annoying customers. And if you have a family, then you definitely know what I am talking about. As I sat in the car staring at the interior the only task I needed to complete at that particular moment was to drive myself to a food place to eat, simple. It dawned on me that everything I needed to complete this task was at my fingertips. I have a steering wheel, gear shifter, three pedals, and the skill needed to use this car to get where I need to go.

We often overlook the joys of driving because we are constantly thinking of the next thing on our to do list. Modern technology is also trying to take away the simple pleasures of motoring with safety features that allow the car to make decisions before you can even begin to think on how to react. I never agreed with blind spot detection, over bearing traction and stability control, and auto braking. Frankly, if you’re the type of person who needs a car to tell you that you have someone in your blind spot, help you turn a corner, and stop you from hitting a car in front of you, then you might be better off taking the bus because you are not qualified to turn a wheel and push a pedal. However, if this technology stops a learners permit kid hopped up on Starbucks and blasting rave music from running into my Camaro, then god bless those brilliant engineers. All I ask is you fit an OFF button so the rest of us can enjoy the cars we are paying good money for and not feel like miss Daisy being chauffeured around town.

The point to my rant is that if you own a car, and are a member of society, then the next time you’re in the car try to leave the outside world at the door. Once inside the only task that should be in your head is the destination, not what you have to do when you get there or the next destination. If you are going to work, only thing you need to focus while inside the car is, “I need to take this route to get here”, not what you need to do once you get there. That thought will enter your mind once you step out of the car. We have too many things running around in our heads, even in our sleep most of us do not get the rest we need because we are constantly thinking of the next task at hand.

We spend a good chunk of our lives inside the interior of a car, so let that space be the one area in life where you let your mind rest and focus on one task which is simply to drive and maybe have a good time doing it. We don’t need a 1962 Jaguar E type convertible and a road on the French Riviera to enjoy driving, not that it wouldn’t be unbelievably amazing, all we need is a car, a road, and a clear head. Driving at its basic is a simple skill if you are focused on the task at hand which is getting from point A to point B. If we complicate the situation with cellphones, food and drink, a laptop screen in the center dashboard telling you the weather in city you are not in, or ear numbingly loud music, then we are merely creating more stress for ourselves.

The next time you’re in your car about to go somewhere, stop and take a really deep breathe and set aside everything else. Worry about where you need to go, not what you have to do.

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