This lesson is from driving / by Mirena Rhee

This january i drove to Florida and back from New York to collect my art, and this reminded me that I need to tell you of the moving project ... Which is a really long story, and a lot of pictures. Some other time though.

I thought about the level of empowerment that computers and driving machines like cars have given us so if I were to travel in the past like say, several centuries ago, I would not be able to do it by myself, practically pick any spot on earth and go right now. I can just take a flight to Tasmania, be there in 30 hours, rent a car and then get in a boat and go to the Antarctic. I don't even need to carry a gun ( to fend off wild beasts ), I will not have to explain myself to anyone, i will not have to take years to do so. The car/computer combination empowered people with less physical abilities and people who are not superheroes to cover enormous distances without having to take years of preparation. All you need is a passport.

I wanted to talk about an important point. While I was driving I was marveling at our ability to create and design machines and design the system where we could move our bodies unnaturally at great speeds and basically go anywhere we want. I mean isn't it marvelous that we have been able to design these incredibly sophisticated machines, that we’re able to extract materials from Earth, mold them, shape them into these really strange stiff cages packed with electronics and all kinds of systems based on numerous inventions, and make that a moving machine. I mean this is truly marvelous and I always, always think about that incredible engineering creation. While sitting in it.

I have always been fascinated with American driving and trucking. I've moved several times across the U.S. from New York to Chicago to California, from California to New York, from New York to Florida, from Florida to California, from California back to Florida and back to New York City. There's certain Romanticism that I attach to traveling on American roads long distance, and I really love driving so this is not a painful experience for me but rather enjoyable.

What is truly fascinating is that GPS and Google maps navigation enable me to reach my destination. I'm very absent minded person and without any sort of sense for direction so for me having a GPS and Google maps speak directions from my phone really dramatically changes how I experience driving on American roads. Otherwise I will have to stop every hundred miles just to make sure I'm on the right road.

I have a few simple rules when it comes to driving when you are a very absent minded person. One of them is I rarely drive more than 10 miles faster than the speed limit, of course often times there is a 65 miles per hour posted speed limit and the traffic moves 80 miles per hour so of course I always try to keep up with traffic. That's why one of my basic rules is to make sure that you keep up with traffic but you do not drive drastically faster than anyone else.

My second rule is I always keep basic awareness of who's beside me on the road, who's in front of me and who is behind me.  I constantly check on the back mirror, the side mirrors, to make sure nobody's coming really fast. Sometimes they're people who drive really fast on the roads and to be honest I never get angry in the sense that I totally understand that some people need to hurry on the roads, so I'm not going to waste time being angry - on the contrary, I will make sure to always move over so if I'm in the fast lane as soon as it's safe to move out move into the right-hand Lane. That way I allow the person who is in a hurry to just freely move forward and tailgate the next person in line.

The above rule for checking on my surroundings especially applies when there is a multi-lane huge backlog traffic especially stop and go like around Washington DC in the stretch between Washington DC and Baltimore. Although it's counterintuitive in a way and people tend to keep very short distance between cars I usually like to keep really good distance between myself and the car in front. Usually some people move in to fill in the gap. Driving in very close proximity in a stop-and-go traffic and especially with multiple lanes traffic moving I'd like to have the opportunity to stop or move over if sudden changes on the road occur.

My other rule is that I rarely speak on the phone when I drive and I know that for a whole lot of people that is not a problem at all. But for myself I know that I need to keep my eyes on the road very very firmly because I'm very absent-minded person and it takes special care to keep my attention on the road. I also avoid eating or drinking while I'm driving for the same reason. I know for a lot of people who drive very often and when I used to drive in California my car was my second body so I never really worried about being attentive to the road but now when I only drive occasionally I really need to pay attention. Especially when I drive for long hours like 10 or 12 hours - I'm not going to lose much and like to take my time.

I noticed recently during a pretty tough drive in a section between Pennsylvania and New York when I had to drive in a fog and rain, and also in the dark - I have to say that I had a really hard time seeing the lanes from my seat. The rain wasn't too hard however my visibility was not ideal so I had to drive slower than the rest of the traffic. There was a dilemma for me whether I should just stop and wait the rain out and i decided to move all the way to the right because I can definitely see the shoulder line really well and then I had my emergency lights on so traffic could be alerted that I'm driving fairly slow. I was forced to drive with my emergency lights on for like a couple of hours but at least it gave me an opportunity to calm down and basically get to where I needed to go to safely.

One of the things I love about driving in America is that as you move from state-to-state you start noticing the changes in the environment - for example at the border between North Carolina and Georgia - it was immediately apparent in Georgia the road changed from two lanes to three lanes so richer state, more money for roads - better roads. For example in North Carolina around fort Bragg I started seeing billboards like courage and freedom so everything was very patriotic on the road and it was really fitting to be near the area of fort Bragg. Also I noticed in North Carolina there was a botanical garden named cape fear I thought it was very funny.