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Heaven in Motion: Driving as Happiness in a Timeless World

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Edited by: Aneesha Chandra

It’s 8:24 AM in the middle of December. The sun rises reluctantly, lazily extending its arms. The morning is frigid, the chill seeping into my bones without mercy. The wind, though a harsh slap against my cheeks, keeps my hair out of my face as I try in vain to get my phone to recognize my fingerprint. I give up, decide to type in my password. My fingers are traitors; it takes me three tries to get them to work right. None of this matters, though. I hit 5 on my speed-dial. It rings twice, maybe thrice. I’m jittery, not with cold, but with excitement. I’m jubilant. I clutch the good news in my hand. It is my ticket to open roads: a freshly laminated driving license. In my name!

Some people think of driving as merely a means to get to places. Of course, the idea that I get to go places I couldn’t have without spending at least 2 hours pressed against smelly armpits and the occasional stiletto heel on my foot is wonderful. But I’ve always liked the transit — that feeling of being in motion, watching the world pass me by as I move onward. It is a strange yet pleasant feeling of being in motion while simultaneously being frozen in time. In that sense, I’ve always liked the ride to the destination more than the destination itself. It’s not about going to but the going itself that feels like pure bliss. Heaven in motion, if you will. 

I love driving. The moment I got my driving license, I couldn’t wait to get out on the road. I thought that this initial honeymoon phase would gradually dwindle as most things do. I was wrong. Hands-on the wheel, foot on the accelerator, music blasting on the speakers, an open road: there’s nothing like it. When there’s just an open road for miles and miles and I can see nothing beyond, the entire world fades away. The only things in focus are the road, the wheel, and myself; everything else is a blur, taking on an ethereal, rippling quality. At that moment, I exist in a timeless world, with infinite possibilities. It’s like looking up at the night sky and feeling small, accompanied by the slow realization that your shoulders have relaxed and your jaw has unclenched as all those seemingly overwhelming problems drift away.

It’s the little things though. There’s something unusually calming about driving on a smooth curve — that control of the wheel and the speed of the car. Every successful curve is a tilt of the wheel and a slow press of the brakes that makes me feel invincible. It’s something out of a movie, something unreal and otherworldly. Perhaps, it is the fact that curves require more control than a straight road. To have that control, and to have the skill and ability to manipulate it, is the harbinger of an adrenaline rush. It comes from knowing that having control is a manifestation of autonomy. 

Driving, thus, is a form of self-expression for me. It is the closest I can get to express myself in a comfortable space: strong, confident, independent, and in control. In the real world, all these parts of myself remain as unused ideals and I-wish-I-could-be’s most of the time. It is quite strange how driving can be a safe space for me to express my most authentic self when it is simultaneously the most dangerous thing I can do. The irony is not lost on me. Of course, there are moments when driving can be frustrating. Traffic jams, ridiculous timing plans for traffic signals, getting stuck behind slow vehicles, pedestrians crossing the road without looking, changing lanes without signalling — all are particularly irksome. But at the end of the day, they don’t really matter. Some things are worth the minor inconveniences that have the potential to ruin your entire day. Especially the kind of things that make you feel alive.

Rhea Thomson

Ashoka '21

That one person who just made the cut. Also an aspiring psychologist.
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