Sunday, March 28, 2010

Travel is the best way to thinking

Speeding through the universe ... or at least Fort Wayne, Indiana (photo by Lon Horwedel)

I’ve been listening to the Moody Blues a lot these days. They were one of my mom’s favorite groups, and after she died last month, I pulled out a bunch of their CD’s and put them into my limited playlist rotation.

I don’t own an iPod. I don’t have a huge library of songs in iTunes. I don’t even own any fancy home audio equipment. I sort of do it the old fashioned way. I listen to one album at a time. And just about the only place I can listen to music these days is in my car, but that’s okay with me, I prefer it that way.

My album (or CD) of choice these days is the Moody’s In Search of the Lost Chord. More specifically, I keep playing “The Best Way to Travel” over and over. It was always my favorite Moody Blues song even though it was never a commercial success or even sung by their main singer, Justin Hayward.

When I was a kid I thought the lyrics were really cool, and the music was unlike anything I’d ever heard – a sort of synthesized racing sound made, I later discoverd, by an instrument called a Mellotron (played by the Moody’s key board player Mike Pinder, who also wrote and sings the song).

Speeding through the universe, thinking is the best way to travel.

The words ring as true for me today as they did when I was a little kid. My imagination seemed limitless back then, but today it tends to get bottled up by all of life’s demands … except when I’m on the road.

When I’m driving (alone that is, with no kids tuning my radio to that 95.5 crap) I can truly let my mind travel. The longer the trip, the more my mind wanders, getting peeled back further and further with every passing mile.

On a two-hour drive I’ll often win the lotto, pay off all my debts, put a new roof on the house and do some extensive landscaping before donating the rest to charity.

On a three-hour drive I’ll learn how to play guitar, become a rock star, then write an award-winning novel before winning the Masters or hitting a game-winning home run in the seventh game of the World Series.

Anything longer than four hours and I’ll really get carried away. Five hours or more and I’ll fall into a trance and instead of just “speeding through the universe” I’ll actually start to think about the universe … or at least my place in it.

If it’s sunny, the volume goes up. If it’s raining, the songs make more sense.  But my mind doesn’t care if it’s clear or cloudy; it races just the same.

I’ll picture myself old. I’ll picture myself young. I’ll forget about the here and now and think only of the past … and the future.

Nothing is off limits. Dreams and fears are given equal time. Just as many bad thoughts will pass through my head as good. And I don’t need a cell phone or kids fighting in the back seat to distract me while I drive - my brain does an ample job on its own.

I’m so adept at traveling with my mind while I’m traveling with my car, that my wife told me she never worries about me falling asleep at the wheel because she knows my racing head won’t let me. Turning my brain on is easy when I’m driving, but turning it off at night has proven more difficult, costing me countless hours of sleep each passing year.

I don’t see things changing anytime soon, these days I have more to think about than ever – and more to forget about too. But that’s okay, I know all I’ve got to do is grab my keys and head for a country road, because where The Moody Blues were searching for the lost chord - sometimes I’m just searching to get lost.

Thinking is the best way to travel.

1 comment:

  1. Lon, what a beautiful column you wrote! I don't know if you are a professional writer, but you should be -- or at least give it a try. I've never heard *Thinking is the Best Way to Travel* described in such a moving way. And you are right on about what Moodies music can do for you. It seems that no matter what mood you are in, they have a song that will match that mood and either give you comfort or help you celebrate. It's sad that it's your mother's passing that turned you back on to The Moody Blues but the song has kick started your imagination all over again and given you so many things to think about. I do hope you get some sleep soon though. :-) And once more, thank you for sharing all your marvelous thoughts with us.