This morning it occurred to me that I have a lot in common with my car. Oh, sure, we have many differences that are easily seen even by the casual observer. Not as readily apparent are our many similarities, but once identified they can be instructive and provide perspective.
If you’ve seen us together you may have noticed that my Pacifica and I are equally good-looking, although not particularly flashy. It’s also true that we are both road-tested, and are now understandably showing some signs of wear. But that works well enough because we’re low key, and generally practical in an under-the-radar, under-the-hood kind of way. A few dings and scratches only prove that we’ve been around a while.
… my Chrysler “P” spent a couple months shuttling me around Jacksonville while I was treated for prostate cancer …
My ‘07 and I have each had our share of repairs over the years. For example, in 2011 my Chrysler “P” spent a couple months shuttling me around Jacksonville while I was treated for prostate cancer at the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute. But it’s a two-way street, and I have spent many an afternoon sitting in the auto mechanic’s waiting room as my car underwent both minor and major repairs. Some of our fixes are quick, easy, and cheap. Others take time, a few are notably expensive, and none are guaranteed. So each time one is needed, a decision must be made as to whether it is worth the time, expense, and risk.
I often ask the same questions about myself that I ask about my car. How much zip will it have today? How much gas is in the tank? Is everything working well? What will break down next, and when? Will the experts be able to figure out what’s actually wrong with it? Will it be expensive to fix? Will it be worth fixing at all? Is there something I have overlooked or neglected to do that will help keep it running well?
… do they see the same trusty, capable, attractive, useful, reliable vehicle I see? Or do they see a beat up, useless old clunker …
Other questions are more personal. When people look at my car, do they see the same trusty, capable, attractive, useful, reliable vehicle I see? Or do they see a beat up, useless old clunker on its last legs? Will they see it as roadworthy, or are they wondering whether the day is approaching when it should be parked in a garage somewhere, maybe planning to take it out for an occasional short spin around the block for old time’s sake?
Our odometers are getting into some high numbers. For each of us I ask: How much more useful life remains? With about 120,000 miles on my Pacifica’s odometer, it’s likely more than halfway to the finish line. With 65 years on mine, I can safely assume the same for me. Neither will run forever, and exactly how long we can last will remain a mystery until it’s over.
There is no question that some things will go wrong along the way, and it is a certainty that everything will go wrong eventually. Although we are both apparently survivors in our own way, we will each inevitably arrive at the end of our respective roads. Will it have been a good ride? That depends largely on how we navigate the roads we travel.
The Road Ahead
Each time I put my trusty crossover vehicle back in gear I feel an affinity for what we have in common. Hopefully, we both have a little more mileage left before we’re done, but I realize this could be its final outing, or mine. Nevertheless, my car and I are both running pretty well today, so why worry? Today can be a good day, regardless of what surprises tomorrow may bring.
… my car and I are both running pretty well today, so why worry?
I have the power to chart a course for the future I hope for, while making the most of the present I have. Moment by moment, I will do what I can to enjoy the day. If I’m lucky, I’ll laugh a little, love a lot, accomplish something, and help someone else do the same.
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