Sunday, April 24, 2011

Know thy car, know thyself.

Someone once said that life is a series of dogs. Probably true. But I think that life is really a series of cars. Not everyone has a dog. But everyone, at one time or another, has owned a car.

Remember your first car? The thrill of it? The picture I added is a reasonable facsimile of my first car, a 1970 Ford Thunderbird. Of course, mine was used, about 7 years old. And pretty beat. But I loved it. So many memories I have from driving that car.

I have had many cars since then. And each, if I really think about it, has a story to tell. As a matter of fact, you could probably chronicle my life with stories from each car.

We think that cars just get us from one place to another. And perhaps that is true. But maybe how they get us from one place to another is not always just about transportation.

My first car was just that, my first car. My ride. In and of itself, it wasn't anything special. But it signified freedom to me. Freedom to go places I wanted to go. It was a heady time. A time of expanding my horizons, even if that just meant driving to the other side of town.

After a while, that car proved to be unreliable. So, I bought a safer car. Nothing fancy; small and compact. I was still in school and needed something reliable. Or at least my dad thought I did.

But after I was done with school and I was working as a full-time nurse, and thought of myself as quite independent, I bought a bright red Honda Prelude. Sporty and fast. I loved that car. It went fast and I drove fast. Sunroof. Stereo blaring. Just pure fun. I was footloose and carefree and so was my ride.

I also started to notice other people's cars. Especially guys I would date. Guys with neat, orderly and pragmatic cars always somehow bored me. Something about pragmatic and orderly just didn't work. Nor did flashy or junky.

Think about the cars of your past. Do they tell a story? Maybe you thought you weren't paying attention or that I am just being silly. But I will bet if you think about it, a story will unfold.

The cars in our lives hold many memories. The car you are driving today with your kids inside will have many stories for them to tell after they are all grown up. Think about that. What memories are you making?

Goodness, I can remember all of my dad's cars. Trips we made in them. How I learned to drive in one of them. Everything. I can remember the smell, how I slept in the backseat on long road trips, how my mom always packed a box of travel things with a big tan thermos full of ice water. Geesh, I haven't thought about about that in years.

I can think about and relive parts of my own life through my cars. The sporty car when I was a free spirit, the Mercedes----that was a more obnoxious time, and now, of course, the ugh.....minivan.

But the minivan, which I have had for several years now, loathing each day I drive it, is all about my daughter and car pools and dogs and road trips. This minivan that I loathe will be a source of many, hopefully happy, memories for my daughter. Really, it will. Amazing, isn't it?

So, look at your car and the cars of your past, not just as vehicles, but as an extension of who you are and who you have been. Cars bring back so many memories when you sit back and think about it; some good, some bad, some scary, some maybe even traumatic. It tells stories about who we have been or tried to be, where we have been, who we are now and who we wish we could become perhaps sometime in the future.

What story does your car tell?

We think of a car as a means to get from one place to another. And that may be true. Nothing more than an object we own out of pure necessity.

But maybe, just maybe, they are more than that.

Something to think about as we drive yet again tomorrow.

A suburban mother's role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car forever after. ~Peter De Vries

The car has become a secular sanctuary for the individual, his shrine to the self, his mobile Walden Pond. ~Edward McDonagh

Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car. ~E.B. White, One Man's Meat, 1943


  1. Buying a car for the very first time is such a fantastic phase of life that you'll never forget it, since it signifies freedom and growing up, and that's a good thing to pass on to the young ones.

  2. True. Those cars can be considered as part of yourself, too. We can always say that it is just a car, but psychologically, when you are driving your car, it becomes a part of yourself. Right?

  3. What is the Prelude like now? Have you done some customized designs to it? I don’t have my own car, but my sister has. She lets me use it sometimes and every time I drive it, it feels so exhilarating! The mixed emotions I always feel are pushing me to buy one. Someday I’ll have my own story about owning my first car. =)