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road sage

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When the world gives you lemons, make lemonade.

When the world gives you the deadliest pandemic in 100 years and triggers the most severe economic collapse in history, you go for a drive. Lemons. Lemonade.

Yes, that’s right – thanks to COVID-19 there have never been better driving conditions. The roads are clear. Collisions are down. This makes road therapy enticing. There is no Oxford Dictionary definition but, loosely described, road therapy is the process of solving problems and philosophical dilemmas by driving around aimlessly. You hit the road and have no idea where you’re going, because when it comes to road therapy, you don’t know where you’re going, because you don’t know where you’re going.

There is no destination. There is no point. There is only the solitary bliss of being in motion. You can get the same result from going for a jog, but road therapy is easier on the knees, and you don’t need a shower afterward.

There are key elements to a good road therapy session:

  1. It gets you out of the house;
  2. By concentrating on driving, you are distracted from whatever’s on your mind;
  3. Meanwhile, your subconscious works on your problem;
  4. By the time you are done the drive, the problem is solved or you just don’t care anymore.

In my twenties, I often indulged in road therapy sessions after a long night out. There was something about driving through a city at dawn that put the world in focus. It soon became a regular experience. A mind-clearing drive.

I’ve made a few discoveries indulging in road therapy during the pandemic. For starters, I’m not the only one getting automotive treatment. Aside from essential workers (which I am certainly not) and people doing grocery shopping, everyone is just like me – driving around hoping for a little serenity or escape from isolation through the windshield.

In terms of poor driving behaviour, there’s still plenty. Stunt driving is way up. It’s sad but predictable. Those are bad folks taking advantage of bad times.

Also, I’ve noticed many drivers executing what I call the “Corona Roll.” It’s a variation of a common move that goes by many names; for instance, "The California Roll, “The Rhode Island Roll,” “The Chicago Stop,” or even “The Jakarta Slide.” It involves treating stop signs as if they were yield signs. You just slow down and roll right through. With the streets emptied by the pandemic, drivers are cruising through stops with barely a second thought. It’s a dangerous habit to develop. When you roll through stop signs, you risk striking a pedestrian or cyclist or colliding with another car.

Another recent addition to the lexicon is the “COVID Space Cadet.” That’s when drivers are snapped into reality by the sound of the horn. Hypnotized by the sight of masked pedestrians skulking along dirty streets, they’ve spaced out at a traffic light.

The best part of road therapy is the view. Even during lockdown, you see positive signs everywhere. Dogs look especially happy. They are everywhere. If you could harness the energy from every wagging tail in the country, you could power a small factory. You see couples wearing medical masks out for a walk.

The other day I saw a young boy, around five years old, wearing a mask from the movie Scream. He was holding his father’s hand as they walked along the sidewalk. You could tell he was talking about something important, he gesticulated gleefully with his free hand while his father nodded patiently.

You don’t see that on Netflix. That’s road therapy.

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