We often become acutely aware of the regular dynamic of life: many-- both abortive and fruitful--attempts to mitigate our anxieties and clear our confusions. Our love life can, in an unexpectedly dramatic manner, go astray; our professional career can get abruptly dismantled; our health can fall a frail victim to vindictive and incurable illnesses. We, in the face of life’s cruelty and injustice, stand helplessly defenseless. Our first instinctual urge is to find calmness in the midst of chaos, serenity in the company of unbearable noise, and most crucially, control against the seemingly insurmountable hardships of life.
Although doctors, beloved ones, and astute sages graciously offer us great relief from our insufferable anxieties, there are many simpler-- yet sometimes more therapeutic-- domains that extract us from the sheer hopelessness we so desperately abhor: such as driving a car.
You diligently adjust the mirrors and the seat, firmly grab the steering wheel, and then embark on a trip that leaves you with a peculiar sense of relief and safety.
Unlike life, streets are quite clear in their directions; traffic signs are straightforward and self-explanatory; and you usually encounter no significant difficulty achieving your primary goal: driving from point A to point B.
Then you conclude your destination, turn off the headlights, and finally unfasten your seat belt. In the face of it, this is quite simple. No arduous training is required; anyone with sufficient training can render the car trip achievable.
Yet despite its simplicity and evident normalcy, driving a car can bestow us immense satisfaction and relief. Outside the car, we are beset by the demons of life: relationships, work, health, etc-- all of which we have little or no control. Yet in the boundaries of our cars, we are the controllers and the deciders. Our plans are rarely hindered. When we want to turn to the left, we do. The shift from being in utter helplessness-- normal life-- to being in absolute control--driving-- is astonishingly pleasant.
It is not the car itself, or the charming streets on which we wander that gives us the pleasure per se. It is the brief, ephemeral moments of control that we possess whilst driving our cars, embarking on a limited yet tremendous trip that reminds us of how helpless and defenseless we are, that reminds us that in the end, we are mere mortals striving--and often failing-- to be in control.