Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Boring Drive

The other day I was reading an article about our brains. It said our brains get high on participation. It further explained that when our brains are engaged and we experience pleasure, the brain releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine gives us a pleasurable feeling, so the brain is always looking for ways to create more. Thus when we are actively engaged in activities the brain has a better opportunity to produce dopamine, than if we are passive.

As I sat back and reflected on the article, I discovered why I do not look forward to the solo drive from St. Louis to Chicago, for there is little change in scenery, few obstacles to overcome, and it's an almost straight shot. (Now not to pick on the great State of Illinois, I have experienced similar boring routes in Texas, Montana, Iowa, Indiana, Wyoming, Arizona, Michigan, and a few others.)

Now some will argue the radio, CD or iPod can keep the brain engaged while driving solo. Still, I found that on especially long trips, I tire of sad country songs, too much of the blues, the beat of pop, and the pounding of rap. I once tried jazz and almost ran off the road. A book on tape isn't too bad, as long as I can finish it before I arrive. However, I am not the best at picking up a story line once it's been side aside for a while.

What I have discovered works for me is prayer. Now before you stop reading, let me explain.

Whenever I pass one of those green highway signs that announce a town, etc. I think of a family member. For example, I may pass the sign that says, "Highway 50, Exit 1 Mile," and I recall my wife. I remember her laughter, her voice, her beauty, and so forth. Then I say a prayer for her. I recall her until I pass another sign; then I think of some other family member and say a prayer.

If I run out of family members I recall the bosses I have had and say a prayer for them. Then it's politicians, world leaders, people who have yelled at me, and so on. I say a prayer for each of them.

I usually arrive at my destination relaxed, with a brain full of dopamine.

On the other hand, I also find that beef jerky and Mountain Dew help take my mind off of long, lonely stretches of highway, even as they energize me for the road ahead.

Tying it all together has me praying in between gulps of Mountain Dew as I'm shredding a strip of rawhide jerky.

What a way to go!

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