For close to a year now I’ve lived without owning a car. I’ve been incredibly blessed by the generosity of Close friends who let me borrow their cars for long stretches and coworkers who (barely knowing me!) offered me their cars to get to Kickball or to run an errand or furnish an apartment, and so many other people who’ve given me rides, helped me get bikes, and rented cars when they came to visit. People have been extremely kind to me. Even so = almost.a.year + no car.
I’m sure anyone with this kind of transportation deficiency would struggle in their own ways. The hardest part for me is that I frequently feel confined, literally bound to the suburban environment in which I dwell, restricted in my affairs with the wilderness (and therefore my inherent wild-ness)…but the most binding quality of this experience is not that getting around is difficult, it’s that getting around requires incredible amounts of energy, planning, and time (I should write more about the HOWS of getting around without a car), a combination which more often than not results in choosing to stay put, to put it simply.
The decision whether to buy a car or not is not one I’ve been able to make. Every time I get so close I can already sense that new car smell, something holds me back. It’s been frustrating but I’m pretty sure the prohibitions or inhibitions have been quite deliberate in the cosmic plan.
Which is exactly why I am writing this now. I was journaling a little while ago about the times I’ve been truly happy in life, and narrowed my brainstorm down to two statements, initially wanting to see which was actually true, or just most true:
- When I am happy, I feel God.
- When I feel God, I am happy.
Well so far the determination is that both are equally true, it’s a personal chicken or egg scenario, the snake eating its own tail. I refined my ideas down to these statements after much discovery that the greatest percentage of my happinesses and experiences with God occur when I am in motion and in Nature.
Getting a car repeatedly feels like the remedy to my apathy – because I could get moving and get outside. Basically I could arrive at all the possible destinations that would fulfill me. Duh. No one is going to disagree here, right?
But deep inside I think I know I’ve always felt an intense call not just for self awareness but to self-reliance, and depending on a car or other people in order to have very sacred moments of Happiness and God-liness…well it really all of a sudden and out of nowhere felt like a tremendous cop-out – like I’ve been blaming mood-swings and homesickness on a lack of Nature when in reality Nature is all around me, even in a sea of asphalt, landscaping, and car exhaust.
The sensation of being smacked hard across the face with one’s own excuses woke me from delusion then diffused over me, and I asked of myself this question:
“Is it possible to find and exist with MY OWN spiritual happiness here in the city-desert, where it’s soon to feel like hell (referring to the summer season), with limited exposure to my idea of “nature,” in order to save all my cents for a grand goal; and possibly in this experiment gain something even Greater than just present contentment and fulfilled dreams some day?”
As soon as the question was conceived, it became my fate to mother it.
The Universe is mysterious, and I truly believe we are constantly being led along our unique and converging paths toward what we need to ‘level up.’ A complex system of emotions, perceptions, fantasies, and reality keep me pushing forward toward ever evolving or diverging goals (sometimes mania – topic for another post). Indeed EVERYTHING, ALL of IT, has gotten me here to finally bare the question and look forward to answering it.
With certainty it can be said that the willingness to receive such a challenge as exploring creativity, peace, union with the divine, and overall serenity in my relative stuckness, was somewhat influenced by the book Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. Frankl is a survivor of Auschwitz and other holocaust camps and the progenitor of Logotherapy – a psychological school that emphasizes the necessity of having purpose in order to live a fulfilled life.
I’ve never read in such detail the horrors of life within a concentration camp or the determination to endure. I realized in reading it that there is much to which I have the ability to surrender – and that moved me to a deeper space of inner peace and acceptance about the things I either can’t control or haven’t been able to make a decision about (car!). I could then put my attention on what’s right in front of me.
So I will turn the question, My Question, into a hypothesis and set out to prove it. I get the feeling this is just a little slice of my life’s work right here, and I have no idea how it’s going to evolve or change or how I’ll organize my “research” but I’m going to find it, and probably a new part of my Self, in doing ‘the work.’
“It is possible to exist in spiritual happiness despite external conditions and limited exposure to wild-ness and beauty (transportation deficiency), while saving resources for a future goal (choosing not to buy a car); and through the experiment of living consciously within limitation (exploring nature, beauty, and joy in day to day life), something Greater than mere contentment and fulfilled dreams some day, is to be gained.”
And here is where I’ll present my findings.
Before I set out, I’d like to mention that I’m prone to emotional outbursts, cynicism, and childlike frustration when a feeling of powerlessness has bottled up inside me, when I’m surrounded by things that are ugly or illogical, or I have sensory overload – particularly from loud, un-melodic sounds, strong, unpleasant smells, harsh lighting, crowds, and extreme whether. I’m claustrophobic in the most literal and figurative senses of the word and I hate being told “No.”
It feels important to provide this bit of background on my nature because my ego wants to come across as all Zen-like as I maneuver through the world, and it’s possible I could unconsciously disguise my own ugliness to make this journey look like a piece of of cake. I’ll do my best to be radically honest.