The first official day of summer fast approaches. The most daylight we will see all year. A few fleeting months of sun, warmth, humidity, and the desire to bail out of work early every Friday afternoon. It is for me, beyond all else, the season of the road trip. A time to forget about the job for a brief stretch, to pick an old favorite or a brand new destination, roll down the windows, toss a light bag in the back seat, and hit the pavement. Oh, and don’t forget the soundtrack. This may be the most important item you bring on your journey. Don’t take this last task lightly. Setting the theme can make all the difference on the open highway.
Road trips are a time of adventure, but hopefully a time of reflection as well. Choose your tunes wisely, they will create the theme that will carry you to your destination and back again.
Setting the tone: Don’t go too heavy, too fast, too loud. Remember that reflection part? We don’t want to clutter our mind, we want to let it loose. Let all of that baggage slowly spill out onto the shoulder. Not too soft either, you have to be able to hear the melody over the wind whistling through the windows. That’s right, open the windows! Turn off that poisonous air conditioning and feel that beautiful breeze. Smell the smells that make up the outside world. Last note: stay away from too much composition complexity here. Tempos and time signatures that jump all over the place will conflict with the rhythm of your wheels on the asphalt. Pick no stinkers here, hand select only the songs that can truly move you.
Variety: Almost every person on the planet will utter these words at various points in their lives: “I like all kinds of music. My taste is hard to define.” Maybe. We each like to think this is true of ourselves. This is the part where I will tell you to mix it up. Vary the style, vocal range, mood; joyful, thoughtful, inspirational, emotional. As long as they move, have that spirit of the journey, add them to your mix.
Distraction: Turn off the darned cell. Skip the news, weather, and sports. This will not harm you in any discernible way. DO NOT check work emails or voice mail; not even once. Your compadres will survive without you for a few days. Your out of office message should be something like, “I will have no access to electronic communication while I am gone. I will see you when I return. Hasta la vista, baby.” OK, maybe skip the last bit, stay employed.
In summary, do this for your mental and spiritual health, for your soul (dramatic but true). If you can truly let it all go for a bit, stretch your heart and head, everyone around you will thank you upon your return. So pack that bag, dump the baggage for a bit, clear the cobwebs. Crank up the stereo and hit the proverbial road.