It’s dark o’clock and the orange LEDs are looking back at you in the same way they do each and every morning – faintly as if your eyes are still half closed. The moon still rides high in the sky – again I look at the clock and again to double check that I’m not dreaming and start the engine to set off to work. Definition and colour are missing from the world as the fluorescent stickmen point down on a road which is 104 shades of grey.
The headlamps from the oncoming traffic must be on full beam – just like the car behind me – the intense illumination strikes at my retina and challenges it to wake up once more.
It, like me, wishes that we were still in bed with eyes closed to the world and nothing to bother the back of my eye in the first place. Instead the quick fumble to plug in the iPod before any of the overexcited morning radio static hits my ears because my eyes are suffering and I don’t want to subject any other sense to a battering this early in the day.
Your mind tells you it’s probably half past three in the morning. It’s not the first time a clock has lied. The senses want peace and the constant push of the thumb on the steering wheel discards music that is too much for me this morning. Seventeen tunes later a mellow songs comes on to alleviate some of the pain of not being in bed. The place of safety, sanity even that I need. Not just for sleep but for separation from the world. Even the gradual rise of temperature in the van cannot replace pulling the duvet over my head.
Driving through the back country roads there is a sense of peace that you don’t get from sitting in traffic jams – there’s a freedom that you’re exposed to which is both relaxing and dangerous. The lack of stress from road rage or sitting behind a stream of red lights is fine but the complete lack of boundaries you feel with that freedom is tempting you to turn off from your planned route and just keep travelling. Leaving everything behind you. Running away? Possibly. But not yourself.
The passenger in the car is yourself. They sit there and remind you of what we are supposed to do. Animals with the capacity for free will, rash decisions, impulse reactions still adheres to the expectations of society and the need to follow the track we are all on. Work = Wage = Mortgage and Bills. A spiral of reinforcement, reminding us that we work to live and at the same time live to work. We like to say that work isn’t the most important thing in our lives but we’re wrong. Unless you have money behind you to never HAVE to work again you have to play your part in the game.
As I travel on the sky lightens to slowly reveal the colours that have been muted. La Luna still hangs there in the pale blue morning but her sister ball of fire is creeping up behind me revealing the path ahead and begins to clarify the direction that I am compelled to go in. I want to ignore the routine movements that are engraved in my head – not really because of how I feel about my job, more about how I feel full stop. To escape. Find a sense of freedom from myself as much as anything else is not on any map or Sat Nav system. No road signs to point the way to a better life of mental health.
If there were a route, a well-worn path to take us to a place where we found solace and peace, I fear that it would involve a traffic jam through a built up area with one way streets as the mass majority of us sat in an eternal standstill trying to get there. Maybe everyone going their own way, looking for their personal destination and a route that inspires them is the right thing to seek.
Currently that’s not how it feels. I’m the passenger in a pre-programmed driverless car and he destination is as unknown as the journey to get me there.