The Trick to Driving
Being in a band often means you have to drive a lot. We’re not talking truck driver miles, but you can easily put an extra 15k-30k on the odometer without much thought. While many times the trek from city to city is pretty minimal, there are usually days where you need to get up at 6 or 7 just to get to the club before doors. It is these long stretches of time that the ability to drive long distances becomes of the utmost importance.
This came up the other day when my drummer and I had to trek up to Denver. We had two days, which is plenty of time, but we had to use a friends van (ours was in the shop) that didn’t have any radio or air conditioning. As luck would have it, there was a nice cold front that kept the back sweat to a minimum on the first day. Still, I ended up driving in near silence on back road highways for about 11 hours and it didn’t really bother me. I can’t say exactly why sometimes it is nice to drive like this, but here are some theories.
As a kid my family would take vacations and we would drive cross country. One time I remember vividly not having moved for a really long time. My hand had been holding my wrist and it was sweaty. My mouth felt strange since it had obviously not been open for a while. In short, I zoned out for probably an hour or so. Before I broke out of my unknown trance, it occurred to me I was on a roll. I ended up seeing how long I could simply sit still and ride. The scenery whizzed passed and I enjoyed the vast landscapes of the country. It is this kind of focus that makes driving extremely palatable. Not the extreme front of the mind kind of focus, but letting your instincts take over while allowing your mind to open to the experience. Kind of zen-ish, but it honestly is reality.
Along side allowing your mind to find some existential plane to sit on while the miles fly by is finding ways to keep you focused on the road. Meditating on the road is fine as long as you always remember you’re behind the wheel. This past trip we took brough upon a mock slam poetry session in my mind where I described my experience in snap worthy prose for a made up audience in some movie scene book store. I’ll be the first to admit that it was cheesy, but it did exercise both my focus on driving, my environment and language.
The last thing that helps you pile on the miles is to avoid stopping. Instead watching the miles slowly fall off the garmin, focus on the gas tank. That is the real reason you should need to stop and no other. Make a goal to get through half a tank or better yet, get the arrow below 3/4s of a tank. Most trips don’t take more than a tank or two, so by setting your goals according to fuel, you get to focus on getting there rather than having to pee.
So, that is how I do it. If you have other suggestions for making long stints behind the wheel, leave a comment!