SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
For those who follow this blog the revelation that we enjoy older things, empty places, and dusty corners of history will not come as a suprise. Nor will the announcement that we also frost these little pleasures with a touch of the modern, as evidenced by the occasional praise lavished on our durable and dependable little Jeep Cherokee.
People locked in either the past or the future without a touch of the other have always seemed a bit sad to me. Without a balance of the new with the old it is easy to believe or become convinced that the present is better than the past or the past was better then the presnt.
The reality is that when ever you are alive it is the best and worst of times but without historical context, or modern experience, a balanced perspective becomes impossible. A friend of ours is a real fan of vintage Chryslers and as he has literally driven them hundreds of thousands of miles, his opinion that these are some of the best vehicles ever built is based on experience. Adding weight to his arguments are test results from when these cars were new such as in this film about a Chrysler Airflow economy run.
To compare this car with our Jeep Cherokee would be an apples to oranges sort of thing. Still, I would rate the Cherokee as a near pefect blend of the solid construction found in automobiles of the 1940s, the durability of a vintage pick up truck, the versatility of a station wagon, but with enough of the modern conveniences and technology to make it pleasurable as well as dependable but not to the point that it becomes fragile.
Route 66, as well as the Lincoln Highway and the other great two lanes roads, are afflicted in the same manner. Without balance we lament the demise of Route 66 as we would an old friend or we cruise the interstate blissfully unaware of what is being missed.
We live in the best of both worlds. Today we can savor a drive on the old double six, seek the tangible links to the past in the cafes or motels, and relearn the important lesson that life is a journey to be enjoyed. Yes, the destination is important but so is the adventure of getting there.
Then, when time is of the essence or the destination must be the focus we can take to the super slab, set the cruise, and encapsulate ourselves in the world of the generic that is the modern era. Essentially, we can have our cake and eat it to.
To truly experience the past as it was and to gain a better appreciation for the modern era, cruise Route 66 in mid August from Goffs to Ludlow with the air conditioning off. Make no reservations and seek a room for the night at the end of a long, hot day somewhere between Needles and Barstow. Been there, done that.
The flip side is to hurtle down the highway with the windows rolled up, the radio on, the ac on, fully insulated from the smells, the sights, and sounds of the countryside being driven through. At the end off the day you eat the same food from an identical styrofoam box to the one you ate breakfast from, drift off to sleep in a room identical to the one you slept in the night before, and in the morning you stumble out to the car trying to remember if this Amarillo or Albuquerque because the landscape appears to have been pressed from the same mold.
I suppose, in my long winded way, the point I hope to make is this – enjoy life. Don’t look for reasons to be offended or bored. Make an effort to see every irritation and every obstacle as an opportunity for adventure, for new experiences, and to meet new people.
I had not intended for this post to take this turn. However, this morning as I rode my bicycle to work along Route 66, I was meditating on a dear friend that stopped to visit recently after being away for more than a year.
He has everything but is miserable. There is no joy in anything or any place for him. His bitterness is festering into a caustic anger because he sees all of these afflictions as something inflicted upon him, not as something that he might be able to overcome, to learn from, or have his spirit quickened by.
The road trips he so enjoyed are now painful because the people along them have the audacity to transform an historic abandoned diner into a whimsical recreation of the imagined world of the 1950s. The vintage cars he enjoys are not a source of pleasure because some choose to express themselves with customization. The back roads are no longer pleasurable because the noise of the Harley Davidsons assault his senses and the laughter of people enjoying life are as salt on his open wounds of lonliness.
As I reflected on my friend this morning, sadness enveloped me as so many are wrapped in a similar prison of self destruction. In all honesty, I too occasionaly find myself in a similar place.
I hope this post was more inspirational than depressing. More importantly I hope that as the summer road trip season begins, you have the opportunity to take to the road less traveled and discover, or rediscover, that these really are the best of times and the worst of times, and that life is truly a grand adventure.