As I attempt to drift off to sleep tonight, I’m finding myself in another strange dream loop.
A few hours ago, I arrived back in London after three days spent in the north of England, time split between dual parental homes in Derbyshire and Yorkshire.
The drive home to London was long. Five hours in sweltering heat. Rhizomatic country roads turn into motorway Möbius strips before the free-for-all which is London seems to shatter all illusions that driving can be a relaxing experience.
The one hundred and twelve miles spent on the M1 were regularly glorious and I found myself entering a kind of meditative state on various occasions.
This is what I love about driving. It may be the only activity in which I can achieve such a state. Mind, body and car all feel as one. I’m alert and responsive to the road around me but nothing else exists outside of this scenario, this task. Nothing else is of any concern.
I found myself thinking about mindfulness, in between these moments.
Mindfulness often annoys me in this regard. It too often feels like teaching your granny to suck eggs (or, perhaps, a singular grape). Put me on the M1 and I’ll show you mindfulness.
I change gears and adjust my interior surroundings without thinking, without looking, totally in tune with the task at hand, feeling every vibration within the car, every shift in performance. I am a cautious driver and, having driven around an exploding jalopy for three years in Hull, I know when my car is under the weather.
I feel like I have melted into the car itself, inseparable from it, like some sort of benign T-1000 — a sensation only exacerbated by the summer sun in this year’s heatwave that is brazenly blazing through the driver’s side windows.
I spend at least an hour meditating on Simon Sellars’ elucidations on Mad Max and Crash in his new book, Applied Ballardianism, pondering just how perversely similar my automobilised bliss is to the mindfulness fad that irritates me so much.
… when incomplete bodies, fractured by the demands of capitalism, are rebuilt, they’re bound together by the signs and symbols of banal technology.
I think that at least my “late capitalist” ecstasy is devoid of the watered-down signifiers of “late orientalism”.
In any other circumstance, the alignments of these conditions would threaten to lull me into a nap. But despite the relaxing monotony of the experience, I don’t once feel drowsy. Only when we have stopped and I have lost my sense of immanence to car and road do I start to yawn.
Now, as I try to fall asleep, past midnight, a puddle of heatwave sweat and movers-day adrenaline, I am finding myself falling seamlessly into a dream about driving.
My eyes slowly shut and I am immediately behind the wheel of the car, staring down the infinite expanse of the rolling M1.
Somehow aware that I am asleep, I jolt myself awake.
Again and again, I try to settle into the driving seat of my unconscious but the innate anxiety of falling asleep at the wheel prevents me from entering the dream in which I’m driving.
Instead, I stare at the ceiling for hours, tempted to take the car out for a late night spin.