Road trip chronicles (death, 31 miles)

I remember how as a young boy, when I went on road trips with my parents, I was fascinated by those interspersed highway signs which declared your steady progress by announcing just how far you were from your destination. As each sign passed by, I was reminded that the distance between us and the place we were heading was slowly shrinking in unison with the steady drone of the engine and tires. There was something reassuring about the passage of the signs for they lent a material sense of accomplishment which made that repetition and incessant driving worth it. You could, with a little imagination, envision that you were sitting in a motionless car while the countryside, on the move, whizzed by. Except for these mileage marker signs which quite clearly and inarguably spelled out your one-dimensional progress through space.

Today, driving on the 101 to San Francisco, I was reminded of the comforting sense of advancement these signs reward you with as you drive, and drive, and drive…

Is followed minutes later by…

Driving can seem aimless and your goal is a disconnected name and blotch on the map, but these signs put a lid on your wayward procession.

I often wonder how chilling it might be if these signs were somehow absorbed into the road map of our lives and predicted the steady and unsteady march of our life.

Marriage, 3 miles
Divorce, 10 miles
Bankruptcy, 25 miles
Death, 31 miles

Presto. Your trip is no longer a grueling mystery and you can get down to business and concentrate on other things. Imagine how different the ride would be if such a sign was available to remove the nagging unknowns of our journey?

Such fatalistic predictability would certainly add to the dullness of life but you would no longer squander precious thought and worry on the amount of mileage remaining which can never be known. And you could devote your energy to that which no one seems to do…to enjoying the ride.