I recieved an essay from my friend in Kentucky. He's the author of essay #15. It's really really good. It's also really really long. I'm splitting it into four (maybe five) parts. I think the most challenging part for me is part three.
Earlier tonight we drove 2.6 miles (one way) to pick up your girlfriend so she could eat dinner with us. We were one car among many cars on the highway, a ribbon of asphalt lit up like a Vegas gaming table, lined with halogen lights, LED billboards messages hawking sales of goods that travel thousands of miles to get to the shelves, all while the radio brought us the news from Iraq via the BBC world news. As I’m writing this I just asked you about what you were thinking when we were traveling there. You said you were thinking up what to tell her parents if they asked where we were going since they would never consent to having her come to our house. I was thinking of something else.
I was thinking of the world you will inherit, and how this seemingly ordinary act of driving a short distance to pick up your girlfriend is a luxury, of how the news about the Iraq war is related to the 1/3 gallon of gas we would be using tonight, how the world seems to be on an insane path because of energy addiction, and how I’ll be able to handle a coming ideological impasse, your 16th birthday.
A major excitement in my life was the acquisition of my driver’s permit at age 15. It was a rite of passage that ranked right up there with getting laid for the first time, and I couldn’t wait. I’m not sure what you think about your 16th birthday, but every time I’ve mentioned your age to anyone in the past 6 years, a common reaction would have an oblique reference to it … ‘before you know it, he’ll be driving’. Your mom’s relatives -especially your uncle Mike- has been talking to you about how ‘you’ll be needing a car when you’re 16’. Your 17 year old cousin owns a car. I’m not angry with them (or anyone else) for this reaction because it’s what they know. It’s the way they think, their worldview, their paradigm. Just like you and me, they have always known a world full of cars and, as a result, structure where they live, where they shop, what they buy, and maybe even who they choose to love on some level due to the luxury of easy transportation that cheap energy and the car allows. They filter their world through the car windshield and don’t even realize they are doing it. It’s their paradigm, this cult of the car.
To be continued...