I Drive with my Windows Down and the Music Off

25 07 2012

Yes, I like feeling the air, hot or cold, and I appreciate the silence. But that’s not the reason I drive with my windows down and the music off. It’s like this: I have friends in the Industry (the movie business), friends you’ve heard of, friends who live ridiculously privileged lives, who drive really nice cars, make really large sums of money, live in really nice homes.

And then there’s the fat woman I drive by after school who is always making her way to the bus stop after her shift at Burger King. And there’s the paraplegic in his wheelchair who, around the same time, I see heading to the grocery store. They are almost non-entities, almost nobodies, in the grand scheme of things. And maybe even in the small scheme of things.

Now I have to make sense of these two disparate realities that confront me: my friends in the really nice homes who drive really nice cars and make really large sums of money, and fat ladies walking to bus stops and paraplegics in wheelchairs going shopping.

I make sense of them by driving with my windows down and the music off. I stay in touch with the fat women and paraplegics of the world by breathing their air, hearing their sounds, smelling their smells. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, I admit. But it puts me one step closer to them, to those people who I do not aspire to be like, whose life situations I do not want to emulate. I drive with my windows down and the music off because it presents one less barrier between me and them, and there are already enough barriers between us. I do it because it reminds me of them. It reminds me that they’re there. That they exist. That they are.

When I drive with my windows down and the music off, I am refusing to be isolated from their reality by just one more modern convenience, and I’m refusing to be distracted by the omnipresent sound of happy music in my ears. For a few seconds, I am sharing their reality, however fleeting. If they’re hot, I’m hot. If they’re cold, I’m cold.

It’s a small gesture, I’ll admit. And quite possibly a ridiculous one. But life is made up of gestures, it seems to me, both small and large, and if I can manifest even small ones from time to time, then maybe someday I can graduate to bigger ones, ones that actually matter in the grand scheme of things. But for now, I’m committed to these small gestures, gestures that just might be making a difference in the small scheme of things. Bird by bird, word by word.

This is why I drive with my windows down and the music off.

Most of the time.

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