Clear your mind on the road

by Jordan Green

Pure Prairie League may be one of the most under-appreciated musical groups of all time. You’ve probably heard their hit “Amie,” but have you heard some of their other great works?

One of my favorite songs by the group is “Two Lane Highway.” It’s a song about – you guessed it – two lane highways.

And of all of the two-lane highways in the United States, Route 66 is my favorite.

I’ve written before about my love for The Mother Road. A little over a year ago, I penned a column recounting a road trip I took to my hometown of Sayre, Oklahoma.

Driving down the old concrete highway was a trip back in time. For most of the ride, I had my truck’s windows rolled down. I listened to the “American Graffiti” soundtrack, which is packed full of hits from the 1950s, and enjoyed the slow, leisurely drive.

When I completed my journey, I shared a lesson I had learned: Every now and then, we need to slow down and get out of life’s “rat race.”

That lesson is relevant today.

Everyone’s life has been changed in one way or another by the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve all had to adapt to new work environments; for many of us, our bedrooms have become our offices. Parents and students alike have had to adapt to rapidly shifting school schedules. We’ve increased sanitation measures around our homes and businesses – hopefully. And we’ve all gotten caught up in the 24-hour news cycle that revolves around the pandemic.

Many Americans are struggling to adapt to these changes – myself included. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly one-third of all Americans are experiencing some form of anxiety or depression. We’ve been cut off from the people we love – and for those who have lost loved ones to this silent killer, those separations are permanent.

I could discuss a number of ways I think people could protect their mental health. But what do I know? I’m just a newspaperman, not a counselor.

Yet, from personal experience, I can say this: Taking a short road trip might be good for you.

Going down a country road or an old highway affords we city-dwellers the opportunity to see nature at its finest. I can’t help but think of the picturesque stretch of Highway 60 between Ponca City and Pawhuska. One can see cattle grazing in the tall grass growing along the hillsides, a view that never disappoints.

That’s just one of the beautiful stretches of highway we have at our disposal. The winding roads around Kaw Lake allow drivers to see a number of birds and animals.

We have some gorgeous scenery around Kay County. But if you’re like me, no road is better than Route 66.

The common denominator along all of these routes is neither the pavement nor the broken yellow line down the center of the road. Each of these routes displays the marvels of nature in their endless beauty. I can’t think of a sight more relaxing than seeing a field of hay waving in the evening wind.

You can find scenes like that when you follow the yellow-striped road.

Not everyone likes to drive. But for some people, a road trip is the perfect solution to the emotional conundrums brought on by the coronavirus.

Is the two-lane highway calling you today?