I’m driving, heading up the highway, into the mountains. It’s morning, and snow is falling heavily. It’s cold out – probably about 10 degrees – so the snowflakes are light and dry. The road ahead is slowly accumulating snow, but only on the edges of the road, and in between the lanes – not where the wheels hit.
I always notice this. It’s not always snow – maybe it’s dirt blowing across the road from a dust storm. Maybe it’s debris from a car accident. Maybe it’s gravel that fell off a passing truck. Whatever it is, by the time I see it, it’s always cleared itself out of the tire tracks. That always strikes me, because it feels like there’s sentience there. How did the rocks know to get out of the tire tracks? Why aren’t the rocks just scattered evenly across the road – surely that’s how they fell?
And it is how they fell. And it’s how snow falls too – evenly across the road. But even so, it manages to organize itself outside of the tire tracks. Why? How?
The rock that is in the tire tracks, unsurprisingly, gets run over – hit, over and over again. And every time it gets hit, it moves – thrown forward as though it was kicked. And as it tumbles forward, it bounces randomly to the left, or to the right. And it keeps doing this – getting hit, moving forward, bouncing laterally, until eventually, it’s not in the tire tracks anymore. Not by conscious decision, but because by chance, randomly, it happened to not be in the tire tracks anymore.
So that’s where it stays. Out of the tracks. Not getting run over anymore Also not moving. Stuck.
And whenever I notice this, I can’t help but assign some deeper philosophical meaning to it. Tire tracks are a violent, unpredictable place to be. But as soon as you find yourself outside the tracks, comfortable, settled, you’re no longer moving.