Monday, January 3, 2011

Cross Country Travels

Every few months I find myself driving across the country. In the past two weeks I drove from Utah to Mississippi and back, and the trip renewed my enthusiasm for some things:

For me, the music makes the trip. The way out east, I was with my sister. I drove most of the way, so we mainly listened to her iPod. That helped me realize that I not only like "my" music, but that I just love music in general. I would never buy a Taylor Swift CD, but it would be dishonest of me to say that I didn't enjoy listening to it for half a day.

The more you study key changes, cadences and the like, there's a danger that music will start to lose some of its magic. So I was thrilled when I stumbled on the music from Les Choristes. There is nothing really technically complex with "Sur l'ocean," but as I was driving through Texas, I couldn't help but be moved by its simple beauty. For me at least, music remains magical.

The same goes for Johnny Cash's "God's Gonna Cut You Down." I'm not really a fan of country, but this song was the perfect complement to the Southwest's landscape. It made the whole scene impossibly thrilling for two and a half minutes.

2—Family and Friends
I went east with my sister and west with my friend. I love old, well-formed relationships. I appreciate the comfort that accompanies silence between siblings and old friends. With newly-formed acquaintances, one must always be in conversation or else there's a strain on the moment. For me, the object of all that chatter is getting to the point where we can sit comfortably in silence. It's what Yann Martel calls "moments of stillness."

I love this big, bold country. I love how sweeping, beautiful, and varied its landscape is. I love the gradual shift in accents you hear as you drive across it. I love its diversity—seeing a "Taste of India" restaurant in a gas station in New Mexico or a mosque in Shreveport. I love that there is still a sense of adventure that comes from traveling across America; there is still the possibility that you could get stranded in a mountain pass or run out of gas in the middle of nowhere. If I may, I'd like to refer to the second verse of "My Country, 'tis of Thee" for a summation of my sentiments:

I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills
Like that above.

Anybody down for another road trip?

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