“I take to the open road, healthy, free, the world before me” – Walt Witman
I have a unique view into peoples lives and I don’t mean in some creepy “peeping Tom” kind of way. I deal with many people on a daily basis, as a police officer. With that, I often find myself looking at some kind of a drivers license or state issued identification. Often, I find the birth year of my contacts not necessarily matching the wear and tear on the human I see before me. I find myself believing a man to be in his mid 40’s, only to find he’s actually 25! Now, I understand that my perception of this man’s age can be skewed, because we ourselves aren’t often keen on our own aging process; however, there is a term I often think of when describing those who have stomped on the accelerator of aging, City Miles.
What kind of car do you want?
Now, for you non-gear heads, it is important to understand the term. Let’s say you are looking for a used car. You find one with high mileage, but the previous owner tells you they are “highway miles”. This is good. This means the car wasn’t a victim of the rough stop and go traffic city life brings with it. A car with city miles is less desirable because stop and go traffic reeks havoc on the brakes, transmission and motor. City roads are often filled with pot holes, damaging suspension components. Close city parking provides even the most careful of drivers with door dings and scratches caused by phantom offenders who never leave a god damn note (this has happened to me many times). City driving is described as hours of idling, staying still, and waiting your turn to enter an intersection. The car screams for a different life. The car wants to rip down the road and move! The car is looking for that open highway.
Highway miles are a different thing. The car moves fast down an often smooth roadway. The motor sits comfortably at 3,000 RPM, cruising at 80mph. The suspension glides over the road and the brake pads sit tucked away in their respective caliper or drum. The car on the highway is going places and fast. It doesn’t need to stop, unless it needs to fuel up or the driver needs to stretch their legs. The highway is where the car belongs and where it wants to be.
Your life vehicle
So, what the hell does a car have to do with your health? What can a cars environment tell us about our own? Believe it or not, you are cruising around in a vehicle. Like Joe Rogan once said, a “meat vehicle”. Your body takes you to where you want to go. It carries that ape brain of yours throughout the day. It’s the vehicle of life. It is, what I like to call, your life chassis. Your life chassis is how you experience this world. Without it, you’d still be the twinkle in you daddy’s eye. This thing carries you from birth to death and how you coast through that span of time is often up to you. We only get one life chassis. Sure, you can fix things here and there; but, nothing quite compares to the components installed by the powers to be. Now the question is, are you putting city miles on the life chassis or are you cruising on the highway?
What kind of miles are you accumulating?
How do you drive your life chassis? Are you slamming on the gas and jamming the transmission into gear like some pissed off teenager? Or, are you sitting that bad boy on the couch for hours, letting the components lock up? Both aren’t good. Both are considered, city miles. The sitting in stressed out situations. The slamming on the brakes cause you sped up to yet another traffic jam. This is not where the life chassis likes to be. It seeks the open road. It’s looking for movement, direction, and progress.
I have encountered many men and women who have accumulated city miles on their life chassis. They are overweight from the idling in life’s traffic. Their brakes are worn out from all the stop and go in life. They are tired of waiting and sitting. Some think they are playing it safe by not moving. They believe movement is what causes their components to break, when in reality they are broken because they live sedentary life styles. The life chassis that carries them around desires a different route home.
I have also met many men and women who live their live on highway miles. Now, they don’t survive the mileage without some kind of damage. Even the highway driven car has its set backs. Pebbles cause small scratches in the hood. Sometimes a blown out tire at high speeds can cause quite the fender bender and the open road can hold some other dangers. These men and women have scars. They have achy joints from the high mileage. But, with every scar and achy joint comes something city miles can never deliver, they went somewhere and they went their often. They cruised fast to see what they were made of. They pushed themselves physically and mentally. They became better because of that distance traveled. They became stronger, smarter and happier. Every click of that odometer is a journey worth traveling instead of time spent idling in traffic behind diesel Ford F-350.
Choose your route
No matter what we do in life our life chassis will begin to slow down. It’s inevitable; however, we can decide, for the most part, how long our life chassis can support a meaningful life. A mobile life. It comes down to the type of mileage you are slapping on the odometer. Are those miles ones we should remember? Miles that made us better? Or, are they miles we just want to finally get through? There are two points to any navigational endeavor, where you are and where you are going. We are all going to the same place, there is not escaping that; but, how we get there is up to you. Take the highway.