Art by Britton Sukys
Art by Britton Sukys

I am not my car.

I have to remind myself of this frequently so that I don’t take it personally that this little custom Bug has drained nearly four-thousand dollars from my bank account over the past four months. Bad brakes, bald tires, busted lights, broken water pump, shredded timing belt, defunct alternator and a drained battery, all repairs that make sense when I consider it’s a twelve-year-old car with one-hundred-seventy-thousand miles that drove eighty miles a day for the past seven years, shuttling me to and from work without one roadside breakdown.

However, this wave of auto service occurs at the same time that I am stepping away from my career after twelve years of driving towards a goal that I never reached.

Like this little Beetle that we call the “Americar” (the car’s Captain America origin story starts at 19:50 in this video), I’m spending my own time in the shop, tweaking my timing and recharging my psychic batteries. As much as I’d like to be blazing down the road toward that next big thing, I have to take the time to get my wheels back in shape. And, every time I get one system tuned-up, I find another mechanism that demands attention. Sometimes, I’d like to just buy a brand-new model of me and sell this old junker of a life for whatever it’s worth.

Luckily, I have a great mechanic who cares deeply about his work. For the past week, as one new problem after another cropped up in the little Volkswagen-that-Could, he has insisted on keeping the car until “it’s right for you”. He has told me several times, “it’s not worth it to give it back to you if it can’t run the way you need, if it’s not as nice as can be”. It’s my nature to look for deeper meaning in every relationship, and the intensity with which he said that to me made me suspect that I should take the same attitude with myself.

I am not my car, but I’ve driven it the same way I have my own body: fast and hard and with as few breaks as I could manage. For all that, both the car and I fared pretty well. But, at some point, even a machine needs a pit stop. And, if a marvel of German engineering is worth a little work and time to get some more life, then maybe I am too.

With that in mind, I put together a video playlist of music for this period of time when I’m out of the driver’s seat.