Sunday, January 18, 2009

the years go on ...and we're still fighting it.

The drive from Jacksonville to Gainesville is pretty much instinctual at this point. It would have been nice to have been keeping count of how many of those back-and-forth trips I've made in the last 3+ years. How about how many hours my "service engine soon" light has been on for?

It'd be really nice if for some reason there was a database of useless statistics about my life. Or anyone's life. In sports there's someone keeping track of every minute detail. Did you know that Brendan Shanahan has the most "Gordie Howe hat tricks" in NHL history? Yeah, well, he does. He "unofficially" has nine. The interesting part is that legendary hockey Hall of Famer Gordie Howe is "unofficially" credited with only two "Gordie Howe hat tricks". 

But you see what I'm getting at, here? The concept of being able to flip through a book of useless statistics that are all about you. 

  • How many times have you masterbated in your entire life? What's your masterbation per week average? (Remember that data has only been collected starting with the first time you ever masterbated) That date would be available to you as well via the book.   
  • How many pounds of beef have you consumed in your lifetime? Pounds of pork? Poultry? Fish? It could really be any food you wanted to know about. It could be Little Debbie Zebra Cakes if you really wanted to know. 
  • How many miles have you walked in your lifetime? How many miles have you run?
These are only examples. There's thousands of statistics like this that I would find interesting to thumb through. 

Let's get away from this idea, though. What I really wanted to mention was the drive home. It wasn't that anything miraculous happened on the drive home. It was more of quite the opposite, but there's just something about night driving that I think we can all relate to. There were a few characteristics of tonight's drive that really brought together the beauty of night driving. 

It was cold tonight, and it started to rain a little. It's interesting how being in a car has a way of making you feel safe - invincible, even. The elements are working their hardest outside of your vehicle. It's wet. The wind is howling. In your car, though, you are dry and warm. It's a comforting feeling to be cheating mother nature.

Anyone can appreciate the power of music on a night drive. And we all have our favorite picks for such a situation. I like to play this game when I'm driving by myself. It isn't much of a game. I like to flip through my CD case and grab CDs at random. Before hand, I'll decide whether I'm going to listen to the odd or even numbered tracks on the CD. It's a nice way of revisiting music that you may have passed over. But what happened tonight was a pleasant surprise. It took four random CD selections tonight to get home. I couldn't have planned out a better play list for such a great night drive. The random choices came as follows: Switchfoot's New Way to be Human, Blue's Traveler's Four, The Wallflower's Bringing Down the Horse, and I got topped off by Ben Fold's Rockin' The Suburbs. What are the odds of assembling that playlist of glorious music together at the mercy of my right arm flipping pages of CDs in the dark?

But I'll leave that at that. And if I haven't already bored you to tears because this posting is just carrying on about nothing in particular, then I've got to tell you about how after all these years of listening to it over and over - Fred Jones Part 2 by Ben Folds still makes me tear up because of the melancholic mood it creates through beautiful piano and cello playing. The song gives so much more meaning to age discrimination in the workplace. When you listen to it, you can see the whole story playing out. As cliche' as it is, the words come alive. Here's a man who has hung his hat at the same place for 25 years and now he's being asked to step down - retire - and make way for a new generation. There's no party, and there's no big send-off. He's easily replaced. He was just a number. And to depress the hell out of you more, all he has to go home to is an empty house and some startling realization. We can all relate to Fred Jones in some way. The notion of being easily replaced and having not accomplished anything to distinguish you even in your small world. Becoming Fred Jones is terrifying. The song is like an unconventional horror story.

No, sir. No, ma'am. There's nothing better than a night drive to put things into perspective - to assemble a mental list of things to accomplish. There's nothing better than taking a mental tally and to think in hindsight - to get everything figured out if only for about an hour and fifteen minutes. 

The rearview mirror is a painting of headlights. All of those people driving next to you and all of those stories that they represent. Sometimes the best part about the open highway is the optimism that makes you wonder what would happen if you just packed your car with as many possessions would fit and drove as far as your money would take you to start over fresh.

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