Perspective & Immediacy: Completing the Circle
By: Paula Hendricks
Perspective while driving
is an interesting concept. I'm not sure you can get it. Immediacy you
get. I'm there, rolling along, on the ground. Seeing things as I drive,
or cruise. Driving is both an isolated experience and an immediate one.
I can set my car on cruise control, which I love to do in wide open spaces.
I can isolate myself with my speed, my not stopping, my staying on the
highways. But, I can also appreciate things up close. I stop, open the
door, put my feet on the ground, interact with people. I am there. I have
found no better way to ground myself than to drive some distance. To drive
through places I haven't been before, or haven't been for some time, or
simply to drive through places I love - to remind myself.
I count on my car.
I suppose, like many Westerners, I have an ongoing love affair with
my car, maybe cars in general. My car and its well-being are almost
more important than my house.
I am back in New
Mexico, after driving to South Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana.
It was a trip about stirring up energy. Gaining new perspective. Testing
new waters. Tornadoes were all around me until I went to New Orleans.
Car trouble plagued me until I headed south. Family commitments, business
opportunities, and web workshops were top of mind until I drove down
through the Mississippi Delta. New Orleans was for me - the one part
of the trip that was purely selfish.
This trip was uncomfortable.
The car trouble especially. I count on my car, like I count on my health
and my personal energy. Both were not dependable this trip. I stirred
up energy all right. I even wondered about those tornadoes. Being in
the bosom of my family had its own tensions. No wonder I couldn't gain
I had car trouble
- I don't like car trouble. My car wouldn't start in South Dakota. The
gas dried up in the tubing. And it wouldn't drive smoothly in the hills
of Appalachia in West Virginia. Suspected to be an emissions problem.
So, problems with fuel and emissions. In places my family has chosen
Once I headed South,
followed the Ohio and the Mississippi, other things unnerved me - I
got lost in Mississippi and my instructions for finding my way led me
right past Parchman (infamous southern prison). Yankee woman driving
alone with out of state plates. But those issues weren't my car's fault.
I finally got my CB fixed in New Orleans, then cruised on back to New
After I left New
Orleans I drove west into Acadiana (Cajun country), through bayou country
and Lafayette, then headed north through Alexandria and Shreveport.
And north again to Dallas, Wichita Falls, then west across the panhandle
to New Mexico. Crossing state lines in many places is obvious. Obvious
from the landscape. Obvious from the kinds of cars people drive. Obvious
from the condition of the roads. Often I don't need signs to tell me
I'm in a different state. Colorado, 4-wheel drives, pickup trucks, cattle
country. Nebraska, cars, sedans, farms, communities. Louisiana, lush,
green, wet, hot. Texas, dry, hot, flat, brown.
It was in the middle
of the panhandle I started to gain perspective - cruise control set
to 1 mile over the limit. Mile after mile after mile, flat, brown landscape.
Poor looking towns. Rusting buildings, scabby siding, older cars and
trucks. This part of the country felt lonesome, desolate, beaten down.
I wondered how I had gotten here. I could see myself in my old life
in New York City, and recognized for the first time what courage it
took to leave that urban life and come west, knowing no one, having
no work waiting. But, i realized I hadn't gone to Texas, to the panhandle,
I had gone to New Mexico.
In New Mexico the
land turned greener, with red earth underneath and mesas rising out
of the high desert. A more mysterious place - and I had chosen New Mexico.
This land of juniper and pi˝on. A place where time collapses and I can
see as I cruise the wild bands of horses, the Indians, the covered wagons,
the cavalry. And I can see artists trying to capture the light.
I needed to immerse myself in those possibilities for a time. I did.
Now it's time to move on.
I can now see past
the landscape - the stark beauty of the New Mexico desert. I can climb
out of my car, put my feet on the ground, breathe in the hot wind, appreciate
the land and the time I spent there, and know this sere, stark land
no longer sustains me.
While I may have
gained some perspective, I still haven't answered all my questions.
I'm glad to be back in my own space, but I already miss being on the
Comments welcome. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Paula Hendricks is a freelance writer/photographer living in Corrales, New Mexico. She owns paula hendricks & associates, a web development firm.