MAY 17, 2012: THE LIFE PHILOSOPHY FROM INSIDE THE PASSENGER COMPARTMENT OF A CAR

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There is a youth movement away from the philosophy of the car and something has been lost along the way.

 

These days a new generation has embraced a world where things move at cyber speeds that are well beyond our comprehension.

 

Yet the actual people largely remain as inert masses hooked to a pathetic cyber reality in the new formula.

 

They go no further than the uplink via their e-phone or tablet to connect with the larger world and view it through a series of poorly scripted shorthand messages and downloaded pictures from bolder colleagues who actually dare to set foot in the real world.

 

Millions of new ‘adventures’ are taken every second through a strange new world where nothing actually happens, yet every painfully dull minutia of it is duly noted and recorded in a personal social network diary for somebody’s over-inflated vision of posterity.

 

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Consequently, in the bold light of reality, they are not even close to actual adventures unless new adventures are now based upon what is perceived to be clever repartee built on a solid foundation of 21st Century buzz words and pop jargon.

 

It is a chilling world of instant stardom in which babies doing pratfalls and un-fixed dogs finding romance with inanimate objects are destined for Andy Warhol’s vision of fame in 21st Century’s even worse answer to family home movies.

 

An entire generation has voluntarily placed themselves in solitary confinement and decided to witness the world through somebody else’s camera eyes. Billions of things happen every day and only a precious few are destined to be life-affirming or life-changing events, but that will not change the barrage of blandness that will be generously distributed in large doses every nano-second of every day.

 

Maybe we should hope against hope that the Mayans are right about 2012 if we are indeed headed to this kind of hell in a computer generated hand basket, or maybe we should re-acquaint the newest generation with an actual world of fresh air, sunshine and a trusted old companion from the real world called the automobile.

 

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There is still a real world of real cars and real highways where flesh and blood real people travel to actual world locations. These are not life-like driving simulations in which cartoon exotic cars travel down cartoon race tracks or roads. That is real wind buffeting the real car and that is real pavement humming under real tires in this world.

 

Those are not computer generated replicas of people, places and things on the road. That’s a real flat tire and the solution to the problem is in the trunk and not a reset button. We need real adventure in our lives because the nomadic hunter-gatherer gene from our primitive anthropological past may be largely gone, but it should not be completely forgotten by our latest cyber-generation.

 

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Cars can provide that link to adventure and travel. They can re-acquaint us with the notion that it really is the journey and not simply the destination when you actually do undertake a road trip. I come from a different world where cars were part of every adventure as highways to new places and people along the way.

 

It started when I was a kid and soaked up the sheer pleasure my father had every time he was behind the wheel of his car. He was a professional driver for a living as a pioneer member of the highway patrol unit in our area, but he loved every minute of his time behind the wheel.

 

We had Sunday drives as a family because he never seemed to tire of the opportunity to spend time in a car. It was a powerful message that was not lost on me or many of my siblings.

 

There is something very therapeutic about time in a car, even if you have no particular place to go, to quote Chuck Berry.

 

It is a fortress of solitude for all of the people inside the vehicle and a place for the car’s invitation-only inhabitants to philosophize in private conference about the world inside and outside their car doors.

 

It is a place where a select group of people can let their guard down with each other and find the relaxed candor of privacy provided by moving vehicles and rolled-up car windows.

 

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For awhile, nothing really matters because every mile is a new mile in the car and different from the last mile when you are on the road. You see things differently and feel things differently in a car because it is a 360 degree non-computer generated view of the real world. I fear for a new generation that has voluntarily chosen to cloister themselves away from the spirit of the road and replaced it with a cyber world.

 

There is a sterilized hopelessness to that perilous path.

 

Jim Sutherland

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