June 30, 2015
I recently spent a few days in Las Vegas, Nevada, to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of a lovely couple. I met a few new people, and during that time we strangers engaged in lots of activities—one of which was driving dune buggies around on fifteen thousand acres of Nevadan desert.
It was a great experience—expensive, but highly recommended—but there’s one thing about the experience I can’t seem to let go. The man who picked us up from the hotel, the old dude who later drove us into the desert, and the young guy that was our guide all said the same thing to us:
You’ve paid good money to do this; drive it like you stole it.
At first, I chuckled it off. The concept of joyriding popped into my head, but the only thing I could really imagine was wrecking a car hard enough that the airbags deployed—not all that fun at my age. I chalked it up to their way of saying “don’t be afraid to drive fast.”
You see, we had paid for a “chase.” In that situation, each person has a dune buggy of their own, and they chase the guide’s buggy. Doing it this way means that you set the tone; the only reason the guide will slow down is because he is waiting for you to catch up. Conversely, if you are right on his bumper, it’s a signal to him that he can crank it up yet another notch. Driving fast means more excitement for your buck; driving like you stole it means the price would be a bargain.
Once I got out there and got a little more comfortable with the dynamics of my buggy, the admonition hit me again: sure I was driving a bit fast, but was I driving it like I stole it? I gave myself a bit more license to drift on corners and scale dune walls, but I still felt like something that could be free was still locked in somehow.
Then it hit me: I wasn’t on a road. This wasn’t a car. There were no speed limits, street lines or right of way rules. The encouragement to drive like it was stolen wasn’t for me to drive like I was on the other side of the law—it was, at least for me, a mental aide to get me to understand a space where laws and constraints don’t exist. Illegality is likely the nearest concept as most people, self included, rarely get to glimpse free agency. I think I did on that day, and it was awesome.
We had our fun in the 100+ degree sun and headed back to The Strip, but I couldn’t stop thinking about this experience of free play I’d just had. In true Leftsider fashion, I began extrapolating… wondering just how much of my life was being operated under limits—particularly those limits which, like my driving in the desert, were self-imposed.
A week has passed and I’m still looking at my life through the eyes of this experience and thinking of ways I can expand my existence; not to live life as if I had stolen it but to live with the minimum number of limitations.