For me, what I have always loved and still love about being on the road is the sense of disconnect. The idea that all your problems, bills and impending crises are put off and inaccessible. In a world where every single person’s moods, thoughts, and memories are constantly given platforms to be put on display, shared and absorbed by others, we need to be cut off from it sometimes – to be allowed to be present and soak in the experience without peer review.
I think it is something that is lost now. You go to the edge of the Grand Canyon, or a towering waterfall and everyone is looking at it through their telephone. You drive down the wrong road and your GPS will guide you back to where you had meant to go. It is hard to get lost these days in the United States. The “holiness” that Kerouac often referred to, when describing life on the open road, has in some ways been sacrificed by modern technology, over-sharing, over-connectedness. The places we went, that were found by accident, that a local revealed to us, that we stumbled upon are now catalogued, searchable, highly trafficked. You’ll drive for miles up fire roads to a secret swimming hole, and find a full parking lot. Things once uniquely beautiful and rare have become part of an Instagram checklist.
But maybe, it’s OK. This just might be the natural progression. Maybe what is important is that we are all still out there searching for something. Whether it’s a place we saw online or a place we didn’t even know existed. Maybe the feeling is just a little muted now because of our technological crutches, but who knows, there is so much out there to see and discover, maybe it will push us to go that much further.
I know I’ll still be out there, trying to find it.