My first investment as a millionaire is going to be a chauffeur.
I’ve known this since I was a small child, curled up in the backseat next to a stack of Dr. Seuss books. Why would anyone want to drive, I thought, when they could be reading instead? It seemed absurd, this obsession with speed and painted steel coffins. I understood that getting places in a timely manner was sometimes important, but most famous quotations seemed to encourage a view of travel as a journey, not a means to a destination. I liked that idea, since in most of my books a “journey” often meant several run-ins with dragons and princesses or Wookies and Death Stars. Not that I expected to pass the Millenium Falcon on the highway, but if there was nothing interesting out the window, at least I’d have some quiet time with the book in my hands.
Of course, then I turned 16 and received my driver’s license and felt the unnatural power of an internal combustion engine accelerating from 0 to 60. While driving cars didn’t become an obsession, I certainly understood their feral majesty. The so-called “feel of the road” rippled through my body as I skidded around tight northern Michigan curves and galloped over low hills with the speedometer ticking closer to 90. Driving in the summer with the windows down, music roaring, on my way to a slice of sandy beach, my internal priorities became firmly re-ordered. Destination first, journey later. The sooner I reached my goal, the more time I could spend there. Logic.
Perhaps this change had something to do as well with Michigan’s often less-than-striking landscape. There’s only so many times you can pass endless, dried-out fields or strict lines of convict pines before your eyes lose focus and the view out the side window becomes a brown/green/snow blur. Without a book to pass the time, all I had was a cold steering wheel, an assortment of pedals, and a vast landscape of Blah. Who wouldn’t want to pass through that as quickly as possible?
And then I went on a road trip. Driving from New Mexico to Michigan, through Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, and a handful of Midwestern states, I think I saw more landscapes than I ever imagined might exist. Mountains primarily drew my attention – the variety and color and size and simple grandeur. But there were rivers too, and small green hills, and the vast golden plains. And the sky. As integral to the landscape as any landmass, the clouds above pulled the portrait together, crafting a memorable vision that to this day tugs my soul West. Through the windows of an early aughts Ford Taurus I witnessed countless scenes that had previously only existed in my imagination. Maybe there was something to be said for the journey after all.
That was the summer of my junior year at Michigan State. Four years later, I still yearn for a repeat experience. But in the meantime, I’ve taken to looking out the window. Driver or passenger, I eagerly review the world around me as it flies by. There may be fewer mountains or vistas, but there’s still something to see, something more than a long black stripe distantly cleaving the horizon.
And so, I still think having a chauffeur would be awfully nice. After all, it’s difficult to appreciate the full 360 degrees of the world when other drivers, desperately focused on their destination, sadly unaware of the journey, seem compelled to drift between lanes and brake unexpectedly. A chauffeur, trained and paid to drive and deal with such road-mad idiots, would give me all the freedom I need to look in every direction, experience all of my surroundings, and, quite simply, allow the journey to become the destination.