Tim Keen


THE LAPD has an off-the-books punishment for officers who irritate the brass or get out of line: it’s called “freeway therapy”, and it’s simply being transferred to a police station that’s a couple hours’ drive from your home. All those hours trudging through LA traffic getting to and from work gives you plenty of time to think about how you’ll just cough politely and leave the room the next time you see the chief of detectives snorting evidence-locker blow off a hooker’s ass.

But the sarcasm in the name is too cruel. Freeway time really can be therapy, if you can embrace the Zen art of bad driving.

You know the feeling – that feeling when you thought there was one more step on the staircase and you stumble into six inches of air. It’s the same feeling when you suddenly ‘snap to’ on a long freeway haul, and realise that you have no memory of actively driving, or even looking out the windscreen, for the past few minutes. Surely you were driving – the car is still in your lane and not skidding along on its roof in a shower of sparks, or embedded in some trees like Kris Meeke.

But even though there’s good evidence you were doing it, you have no memory of doing it at all. It sounds like a lot of testimony to the Mueller investigation.

It’s bad driving, no doubt. And it’s not something I’m proud of – although I assume that in those minutes of high-speed meditation that I at least achieved the minimum legal driving standard, which seems these days to be set at “not currently air-borne or on fire”.

But if Buddhist monks truly want to seek Sunyata and the state of voidness, they should stop divesting themselves of all earthly possessions, and instead stack up 12 hours on the Stuart Highway in an old Nissan with no working radio.

Driving can be the most absorbing, demanding task on the planet. One of the joys of pushing a car hard around a track is that everything else falls away – you have no spare RAM left to worry about relationships or jobs or mortgage payments. (Ironically, if you become too devoted to racing or track days, those things will definitely require some worrying.)

But it can also be one of the most mindless tasks: those long, looooooong freeway journeys where you go into a state of utter blankness, until you drive right past your exit, and just keep going until you either run out of fuel or sink into the Gulf Of Carpentaria.

No wonder some long-haul truckers have to resort to doing hard drugs and withered hookers to keep themselves tethered to the planet – otherwise they risk getting so Sunyata-ed that they simply vanish in a burst of pure enlightenment.


At the risk of pissing off the stop-revive-survive crowd, sometimes what the overburdened mind needs isn’t more laser-focus, but the soft Vaseline’d lens of letting your lizard brain take the wheel. Unless there’s rain or heavy traffic. In which case, forget the freeway therapy and ease that overburdened mind with some evidence-locker blow. The key’s in the sarge’s bottom drawer.