A line stolen (and butchered) from a song by what may be the quintessential Arizona band, The Refreshments (long since disbanded, but with a couple of the original members still making music as Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers). “Nada” is a ballad that is about anything but the nothing that the title suggests. It’s the story of a person seeking something (Redemption? Death? It’s up to you to interpret) as s/he drives and then walks further and further into the Mexican desert.

Here are the Peacemakers performing Nada live (which is really the only way to see it):

The point being that I drive a lot. A WHOLE lot.

I don’t like to fly, and since I recently moved two states away from my extended family, I’ve been finding myself packing my wife and kid into the car and going back and forth for a whole ton of (frustratingly minute, given the length of the drive) reasons.

That said, I can’t remember the last time it was just me and the open road. Where the blacktop stretched before me, beckoning me to leave it all behind and to lose myself in the desert. I can’t tell you how I miss that catharsis sometimes.

Well this weekend I found myself doing just that. A work event had me driving 500 miles south for 3 days and then 400 miles southwest for another 4 days before returning home. As I drove along, winding my through New Mexico’s high desert, the skies were dark with some of the worst desert storms they’ve had in decades. The lightning was striking, and “Nada” came on over the radio. Not on my playlist, but on some random New Mexican terrestrial station that I had found.

The moment was . . . it was just one of those. The moments that remind you that you’re actually alive, not just sleep-walking through it all.

Once the song was over, the goose bumps had faded, and I was done singing at the top of my lungs, I just had to pull over and take this picture, effect courtesy of the iPhone’s panorama feature:

Storm in New Mexico
The clouds were so low it felt like you could touch them. Despite the occasional car speeding past, it felt like I was the only human left on earth and like the highway stretched on forever. And it’s a good thing, or I would have had to keep going south. Like the narrator in “Nada,” I too was feeling the need for my soul to come alive.

And no, there ain’t no moral to this story. At all (and everything I tell you very well might be a lie).

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