This We Believe

Separated by Differences, United by Beliefs

Singing in the Car

on February 20, 2013

I believe in singing in the car.

Being an atheist who is also rather averse to materialism, it has become difficult for me in recent years to truly get into the spirit of the holidays. I go home, enjoy seeing my family, do my best to avoid being asked to go to church, and largely miss that mystical feeling that I remember growing up with, even long after I’d stopped believing in Santa Claus.

Driving back through the snow after visiting our hometown this past Christmas, my boyfriend and I had a long road ahead of us. We contemplated putting on the radio, but knew it would be flooded with songs we weren’t fond of to begin with and had grown to loathe over the last couple of months. Instead we decided to sing some of our favorite songs to pass the time and make the dark road more interesting. Somewhere between our dramatic outpouring of Piano Man and laughing at ourselves for forgetting the words to American Pie, I felt it-that spirit that I’d almost forgotten. In a flurry of gods and gifts I had found something to hold on to.

I remember singing in the car with my father as a child. My dad is a quiet and rather reserved person; it generally takes a lot to make him comfortable, even with the people with whom he is closest. I remember driving somewhere with him in the middle of the summer-I think we were going fishing-the windows were down, the cassette player was blasting and we were singing along to his favorite music. I remember looking over at a man who was often quiet, sometimes stern, but in this moment he was full of joy. I recall feeling a carefree sense of safety and an atmosphere of closeness to my dad that was rare and special.

Singing in the car has done a lot more than get me through some long car rides- it has helped me bond with my friends, it taught me that there are many sides to my parents, and it got me through my mother’s death. There is no debating the value of these moments, no belief system one must belong to in order to identify with the pleasure, the excitement that comes from realizing what it means to be alive at that most basic level. I know that singing in the car can’t possibly be for everyone what it has been for me, but I do believe everyone has the chance at feeling that simple magic, the kind that can only be derived from the deep appreciation of everyday experiences.


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