A Car as a Metaphor for Relationships

I’m in the process of buying a new car.  I’ve lived most of my adult life without a car, having lived in cities where it’s fairly easy to get around on public transportation or by cab.   I only got a car about seven years ago when my Dad gave me my grandmother’s 1988 Grey Buick Century after she died. It was in decent condition and only had 35,000 miles at the time.  When I lived in Chicago, I drove the car about two to three days a week and rarely during the winter.  It was a nice convenience.
Los Angeles is a completely different story. This is very much a car culture and it’s virtually impossible to get around anywhere without a car.  The public transportation system is not entirely safe or convenient and cabs aren’t in abundance like in Chicago and certainly more expensive.  My Buick has seen better days and although it only has 51,000 miles it’s been in a few accidents, I’ve broken down on the freeway, I’ve had to replace the breaks, and have other repairs.  While it’s been nice not having a monthly car payment, the cost of the repairs is starting to add up and I no longer feel entirely safe in my car.

I’ve spent the last few months researching cars.  At first it was entirely overwhelming there are just so many options out there. I spent a lot of time in conversation with people about their cars learning what they liked and didn’t like. Listening to their recommendations.  And inquiring into my likes and dislikes, what features I wanted and the type of car I wanted and what would be a match for my lifestyle.  After much research I narrowed it down to four brands (Mini Cooper, Ford, Hyundai and Scion) and I test drove six cars.

At first I was sold on the Mini Cooper.  It was the first car I test drove and I think it’s a completely adorable car. My reasons for wanting the car were purely emotional with no thought into the practicality of the car and the longevity over time.  After further investigation, I learned more about the cost to service the car over time and other things that made me rethink that choice.

I have now narrowed my choices down to the Scion Fr-S and the Scion Tc.  Both great cars, made by Toyota, very similar in their features with may options being standard on both.  There are things I like and don’t like about each car. The Fr-S is a sportier car with 200 hpr, but doesn’t come with a moon roof and there is not a lot of room in the back seat. The Tc is a lower price point, but the Fr-S is definitely the cooler, younger sibling.  I could get the Tc next week and get a deal on a 2012 model.  I’d have to wait 2-4 months for the Fr-S, as there is a waiting list. The difference in monthly payments, a little over $100.

I keep weighing my options, wondering if I go the practical route and spend less money or get the sportier model, which at first glance was my first choice.  I lean in one direction and then the other, which has been frustrating for me, because by nature, while I do spend time discerning things, I can get to choice fairly quickly.  With this situation, I choose one, then the other, not choosing either. I’m so fearful that I’ll make the wrong decision or choose one and regret it and long for the other and then it will be too late to change things, that my mind is blocked from choosing anything. I’m afraid then that I’ll be locked into the “bad decision” I’ve made, as I’m making a commitment in the form of a 5 year car loan and then be stuck and full of regrets.  I have moments of thinking it’s easier to just keep the Buick but I know, for many reasons, it’s time to let it go and step into something new, even though it’s uncomfortable and risky and requires me to choose.

I was talking to my friend Bob today and as I was sharing this with him, I had this revelation.  Many of the conversations, fears and concerns I have about choosing a car, I have about committed relationships, and marriage. I have this innate fear that I will commit to someone, realize I’ve made horrible choice and regret it for the rest of my life.  Then I’ll be trapped in this stifling, dominating relationship, lose my sense of freedom and independence, wither on the vine and become this person I don’t know or like and end up resenting my partner for holding me back from pursuing my passions. I have really viewed committing myself to another or being married as a life sentence with no parole.

It’s no wonder I see no reason to be married or have been fully willing to commit myself to any man I’ve dated.  I’m always thinking that there might be someone better and that perhaps I’m missing out on something if I’m with the one I’m with.  I’ve even designed some of my relationships to be long distance, so that I get to experience the best of both worlds by having my freedom and my own life and sharing aspects of that life with someone else.

And quite honestly, I’ve also not really observed people, over time, in marriages who seem that happy or fulfilled.  And I can count about 10 couples I know that really seem happy in their marriage and who have really put in the work; and who not only love each other, but who actually like each other, treat each other respectfully and have a genuine partnership.

I got off the phone with Bob wondering where in the world did all of my thoughts, opinions, fears points of view about marriage, committed relationships and committing myself to a man come from.

I’ve been in love before, and  when I love, it’s so deeply and purely. And, while it can be exhilarating (like being behind the wheel of that Fr-S), it’s also been risky to be to open and vulnerable. It’s safer and easier, like keeping the Buick, to remain untethered and free, but am I in some way limiting myself?   And am I really free? Is there something available in fully opening my heart, surrendering and committing to someone and to something beyond myself? What might be possible in choosing partnership?  For myself? For my partner? For what we might create together?  And what about marriage?  Does it expand or contract a relationship?  Is it time to reinvent the idea of marriage?

Quite the interesting inquiry my car selection process has turned into.  None of which I need to solve or answer tonight…or tomorrow for that matter. But it has given me some things to think about.
The car, is a different story. I’ve given myself a week to choose.  I’ve made an appointment with the Scion dealer for next Thursday.

So, do I choose

Scion Tc

Or this?
Scion Fr-S

How to Change the World

This cartoon spoke to me when I saw it, as it served as a great reminder that you can change the world one person at a time. At times I can get caught up in thinking I have to cause drastic change all at once and by myself.  That notion becomes so daunting, I don’t even want to get out bed let alone take any action to “do my part for humanity.”I feel so small and ill-equipped to make any difference at all.  It’s easy to become resigned and indifferent coming from that space and find reasons to do nothing but complain…which is just the worst…then it contributes to the problem and adds to the fear and negativity.

While the beginning of change can be at an individual level, like someone having the thought that something new might be possible, one does not have to change the world alone. It starts with you and the willingness to choose love over fear.  And then your commitment, courage and willingness to think or say something new.  That one shift can be the spark that ignites a  fundamental shift in the consciousness of others.

And then, it takes one to know one.  In the cartoon, one soon becomes two.  Then you are not alone…there is partnership, collaboration. Two can become three, three can become four, and so on.  Pretty soon, you have momentum, a movement, a tribe of people willing to give up what they know and think and believe to consider that perhaps their way isn’t the only way or the “right way.”  And if they were willing to band together…what becomes possible then?

So, how to change the world?

Be love, open your mouth, and start with one conversation at a time.