“Just Drive” – Amid a Pandemic, Using Recreational Driving as an Outlet

Why do we drive? To get places, sure that seems the most logical answer. We drive to work, we drive to the grocery store and to run errands, we drive to go and get a bite to eat. We might even drive to go and see friends, sometimes using the car as our informal meeting place as we try to remain socially distant. You may have heard about gatherings where all of the attendees remain in their vehicles while the event takes place. The vehicle has become our fortress, our protection.

But what about when we just want to get away from it all? What about just grabbing the keys, with no specific destination, simply to take a drive? I know I’ve done it plenty of times, and honestly, I could use a little “me” time behind the wheel right about now. Sometimes simply turning off all the demands of time and place, and using our vehicle as the tool to do it, can really do wonders for one’s self-care. I’m sure a lot of you right now can even picture yourself drifting along some quiet stretch of pavement, trees and associated scenery blurred in your peripheral vision. You feel completely checked out, yet fully engaged in the one thing that is providing this very inexpensive therapy.

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There is something about turning off the outside world and focusing on the simple pleasure of driving. The act of driving is different in this moment, as compared to when you do it for daily routines. You feel more connected to the vehicle, and more connected to the sights and sounds around you. Maybe you play music, or maybe you just let the music of the engine and the road noise be your soundtrack. The time of your drive can affect the feel of the experience too. A morning blast can feel like it sets a good tone for the day ahead. Maybe it serves as the foundation to build positivity on, or as a shield to protect from the stresses that come at us from all sides. And then there are the afternoon and evening drives. Those are the hot showers for our weary selves after a day spent battling our never-ending responsibilities. The sky fades, turning all sorts of soothing pastel shades. The air gets a little more bite to it, and the headlights shine a little brighter as the drive continues on.

Soon, the roads become familiar again, as you are awoken from your driving serenity. Like an old trail horse, we recognize the landmarks, and we know where we are once more as we head to the barn. Whether you took the drive in the morning, afternoon, or evening, it doesn’t matter because you feel better. You grabbed the keys and went out the door with a very specific, non-specific thought in mind. To just drive, to feel the experience, and enjoy our vehicles for what they provide us. They are machines, and a means to an end, but they can also be our friends and our companions. They can provide comfort and a place for us to simply step back from it all. No plans, no expectations. Just get in and go, and enjoy the ride.

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