Drive in the Sun

I have a long history with driving, and most of it has been spent hating it or driving like a squirrel. I prefer to walk, bike,  or direct the designated driver, which usually means messing with the radio, or pointing out blacks cats and old ladies in yellow rain coats.  It’s obvious who’s really having the most fun in a car? Passengers.  “I am a passenger. And I ride and I ride…”

Cynthia Via
Cynthia Via

Being shotgun means you get to be the dj and enjoy the views, while also distributing snacks if it’s a long ride. No worries, just the long road ahead. It’s all fun talk from the back people, who are left abandoned to their devices,  sloppy sleep, or talking until words run out.  At least they  get to nap while the people in the front stay awake, worried that they’ll miss a turn on the long journey.  As a passenger your job is to keep everyone entertained, while also being in charge of checking alternate routes, messing with the GPS, or using a printed google map when there’s no service. “We won’t know if we’re going the right way until we get there,” echoes from somewhere.

The last time I held a real map was in 2007. It was a giant one, and it was upside down when we were on the highway heading to Canada. Eventually the giant map overtook me and covered my side of the front window. My friends in the back laughed hysterically. The driver wasn’t too thrilled. I heard the car steer. No more giant maps after that.

Who’s the real decision maker? The driver. While I love indulging in music, the views, and being the squirrel shotgun who spaces out. I often wonder wouldn’t it better to drive, to make decisions on the whim—last-minute, quick decision.

Pierrot le fou's Anna Karina et Jean-Paul Belmondo.
Pierrot le fou’s Anna Karina et Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Now that I’m back to driving the second time around, I feel more confident, and less fearful of traffic. I still have my reservations, and they should be in place. I don’t want to be the daredevil beginner driver who gets a ticket on her first badass driving maneuver. When you’re learning its best to be patience and take it slow. Expert drivers can take calculated risks, since they anticipate the possible outcome after years of difficult driving.

Being fearless doesn’t mean exhibiting a kind of hubris and making careless decisions on the road,  it means weighing out the options, and making a wise decision. As an example, here are these two scenarios.  The first  is a calculated risk. A friend was in a  small parking lot with only a few spots available. She spotted one and hurried to take it with confidence, moving past the slow cars while being careful. The second decision was a careless one: she was in a curvy highway on the side of a mountain, just beyond the road was gravel then the abyss. On this barely lit highway she decided to suddenly stop and take a photo of a blue sunset (It was beautiful, I have to admit)—not knowing if there was a car behind her. “Gasp!” The car behind stopped, albeit abruptly, but at least it didn’t hit us. The moment was so quick, I doubt she enjoyed the sunset in the same way we did.

On Sunday I  drove in the sun.  Despite the noises outside, the traffic, the conversations inside the car, I was able to black out those minors things, and simply watch the ongoing streets, lights,  and pedestrians walking by. Everything was clockwork, turning, turning, slowing down, moving quickly, staying still, letting cars pass, moving again. At some point I began feeling the fluidity of driving, and it was no longer a chore. I like driving in the mornings when its quiet, especially if its foggy. Everything is blank and new out there in the  cold early spring days, making me feel empty with clarity.  The repetition of driving is therapeutic—sameness down ordinary streets.



This humdrum town

I find myself rummaging through old pieces of writing. Here’s one from last summer. The summer I spent on park lawns watching birds eat scraps off the floor, jugglers dancing, and blue sky whirling above me.

Cynthia Via

Days are blending into each other. It’s suddenly the weekend, and yet the week stares at me, without rest, going on for months and months.

It’s summer. Monday is not the first day of the week, but the first day of eternity. Thursday turns to Friday, and my weekend blends into the working hours—never knowing the separation between the two. The hours of the day all go to the white screen. When I get home, my eyes hardly want to see another screen, so avoid I my laptop and cell phone, and hide my eyes in books, journals or under a blanket.

Cynthia Via

I miss my free hours when I could roam around my house, and write when I saw fit, look out the window, and watch the birds fly down. If the weather was nice, I’d go out to my hammock, swinging on its own, telling me to give up my chores for the silence of the swaying trees. The real world was out there calling. I paid no attention. Now I’m there, walking to and from— home, train, office, to the city park, back to office, sometimes with the infrequent stops at local lunch spots that mostly leave me unsatisfied.

For lunch I go over to the city park, and try to renew myself for that one lonely hour. Now that the weather is warmer, there’s no reason to wait for a free table, instead, the lawn calls me over.

Cynthia Via
Cynthia Via

On many occasions, I was pleasantly surprised. Once it was Shakespeare’s birthday. Actors were running around creating scenes in different corners of the park. Just when I thought: “oh no, not someone fighting,” it was two hamlet-type characters arguing loudly about impending doom. As I ate my lunch, the couple next to be proclaimed their Romeo and Juliet love.

One some days, I saw guys going shirtless, sitting on green chairs without a care, or others meditating under the hot sun. I was pleasantly surprised when I bumped into a friend from my old job. I said, “how I miss that job.” His suit and tie brought me back to reality. He too had an hour, and ate his Indian food without salt in a hurry as our conversation ate time away.


When it rains I stay inside our small office kitchen. Conversations relax me and take me away from the white screen, but it’s mostly silent. On some days, on some Mondays, the quietness consumes all life, and there’s not a single drop of it. Other days people will talk, and laughter will fill the room only temporarily then back to the black hole from where it was first buried. I tell myself “this isn’t so bad.” I’m learning new things, and the people are nice, and sure it could be silent, but that means there’s more to investigate. If everyone shared their thoughts and feelings, wouldn’t it cover the room entirely.

Morning Reflection: Facing me is an empty page

Morning Sun. Edward Hopper. 1952.
Morning Sun. Edward Hopper. 1952.

I dread the idea of beginning, like a heavy hand grasping my throat. My hands freeze, and my thoughts sputter at the inclination of words on paper. I continue that initial moment. There is hesitation. Still, I see no better time to begin and get swept by what may write itself out. At first it’s apart from me, foreign; I’m simply writing for the sake of practice.  I ask myself constantly, do I want to do this? Then why do I lack the will to sit back? There is no perfect place. Yet I have rejected every possible space or way to write, morning or evening. “It’s too late to jot down.” “In its passing, it left nothing, except a shallow taste.” When matters of interest or inquiry go on existing without being written down, they rot. I think about those moments I let slip into disappearance, into oblivion.  I see now, there is a quarrel I have yet to resolve. Those moments refuse to be dismissed by the lack of writing. Tiny feelings and inquiries come back and ask for revision, and for once, to be finally written down.


"For the sad truth was that poets didn't drive, and even when they traveled on foot, they didn't always know where they were going." —Paul Auster, Timbuktu (pp 142)

For most of last week my body was visited by strange ailments, some of physical lengths and others marked by emotional queries. They distorted the time of day. I was the girl with pins in her stomach.

But I don’t suppose I’ll let my fears and the emotions of my mind win out the rest of this month. If we let that happen, we forget that reality is perceived; it can either exist or cease to become permanent.  The real strength of character may come from the ability to control and organize our thoughts, moving from irrational to logical, finally to a place made for you.

While driving in the fog the other day, I realized how flat and permanent reality appeared on the road: the straight white lights from ongoing cars, the misty fog and the early winter darkness. Fear was running before I took off– made aware by dreams of spiral roads, shaky turns, crashes, fumes and faulty breaks. It happens every time I dream of driving; either I’m immobile and the car moves by itself or the accelerator and the breaks are missing. How silly it is to fall under the feeling of dreams.  Once moving, and the accelerator finding its place under my foot, I glided through the fog, making fear impermanent and the drive a continuum instead of divided in parts.

There is no easy way, and as any person climbing into a new boat, it takes many wild days to understand a new experience. How does one take off so elegantly? There are the stops and goes even when you are grounded. The doubts, and the reemergence of energy; it is the up and down motion of a child learning how to stand up. There is the question of inspiration. And then the arrival of silence when you don’t want to write a word, and to force yourself would be insincere. I should wait until my eyes are led to a new thought. There will be first tries, mistakes, rejections, fears and bitter endings, but there is always a time to start again, to push the wheel until you find that words come easily.