My daughter was about six months old was I began to take her for bedtime drives.
For the longest time it was the only way she would fall asleep.
I could never accept the advice of well meaning friends who said, “Just let her cry for one hour the first night and by the end of the week she will stop crying and fall asleep.”
The drive has become a ritual.
Holly takes four of her favorite dolls along as we leave the chatter of the day and enter the stillness of the night. A Johnny Cash CD lulls her to sleep. Cash’s voice and lyrics have a meditative quality. Having listened to this CD countless times, we have become experts in Cash’s art of redemption.
Our route takes us to Blair Road, where the sun filters through the canopy of branches. Holly is sleeping peacefully as a fox looks out carefully from the side of the road. Coyote and deer have crossed our path to disappear into the forest.
A different world emerges when the technological hum of machines meets the incessant chorus of crickets. The night reveals the restlessness of the city. There are those at the late night drive through feeding their insomnia. Others stop to fill their vehicles with overpriced fuel.
Raccoons emerge to sift through the garbage bags dutifully lined up on the boulevards. I am writing this next to the footbridge that crosses the 401, eight lanes of traffic, asphalt, metal, plastic and gasoline.
It feels good to escape the grid for a few minutes, to sit and just breathe, knowing of course that my driving contributes to the degradation of the environment.
Bike enthusiasts may be happy to know that my daughter actually fell asleep the first time I took her for a bike ride. Strapped into her bike carrier while I pedalled around the city, she unexpectedly fell asleep. Perhaps there is still hope for me to become gasoline free.
Driving can be a metaphor for life. As I look at my daughter sleeping, I know what drives the heart of what we all care for. It is not a machine whose wheels make contact on hard surfaces, but the hearts of those we love that radiate all that is good in the world.