Irony=driving to an auto museum in an econobox rental car
Today I found myself with a free day in Los Angeles due to a work switcheroo. I was left in town for the day with instructions to be ready the next morning.
What to do? Well, among a few other things, I went to the Petersen Auto Muesum. It is a wonderful place, and seems more like an art museum than a place where they roll out old cars for people to look at. They take this seriously here. The cars are on display as would be expected of a fine watercolor painting. The place isn’t cluttered; there is a separate tour available of the basement (they call it the Vault) where all the off-display cars are located.
I saw old cars, new cars, everything in between. The over-arching idea, though, was cars as art and inspiration. Sure, a car can be basic transportation that gets you to work and back, but it can be so much more! I’m going to steal the words from the inscription in the entry area on the third floor when I say that cars offer their owners a combination of freedom, utility and distinction. Few products in our culture have more purpose or meaning and even fewer can elicit an emotional response. Have you ever seen a car, or better yet heard one, and your day just instantly got brighter as you sported a big goofy smile?
Deep thoughts, right? As I said, this wasn’t just a warehouse with old cars pushed bumper to bumper. These were exhibits. There was a whole wall detailing the build process of a Maserati. I saw the available options, from leather to woods to metals to different carpets and all the other fittings. I think that if I were to buy a Maserati the process would best be served if I brought along a high-priced interior decorator. That’s not a bad thing, though. Think of the care and attention paid to a carefully built car that goes though a short test circuit with a professional driver, and is then lovingly wrapped completely before shipping for delivery.
Now imagine the irony of me arriving there in an econobox Toyota rental car.
It was every bit the soulless, spirit-crushing experience I expected it to be. That’s ok, in a sense, though; there is a market and need for cars like that. Toyota can crap out these things by the tens of thousands all day for all I care. But to me, much as there is a low (or boring) end, there is also a high end to the market. Hyper cars like the hybrid McLaren P1 I took a picture of, custom built and a marvel of design and engineering.
Not everyone appreciates this, of course. To many, a car is a box with 4 wheels that takes you from one place to the other. And that’s ok; we’re all different, and that’s what makes us humans so interesting. But to me, a car is more. It’s an expression, a statement. I’ve always been passionate about cars, and have owned a couple fun ones in my day. I plan to have another nice one again some day, an old muscle car. Anybody can go out and buy a nice new car, but if you can bring an old car back to life and customize it so that it’s unique in the world to just you, that’s something special.
Whatever drives you, (pun intended) I hope it’s with a passion. I’ve realized that we need something to be passionate about. Preferably, it’s our jobs, life in general, family, that sort of thing. But we need an outlet; there’s more to us as humans than going to work, writing TPS reports and then coming home to watch Dancing with the Stars. We should have something uniquely ours, something we’re proud of and that gets our minds off the day to day grind that wears so many of us down. We’ve all been there, suddenly the bearers of unexpected free time, and without any idea where to go with it. What would you do if you could selfishly claim time to do what you’ve always wanted to?
So get a hobby! It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Maybe you like knitting, drawing, working on cars, building computers, grown-up coloring books, collecting porcelain kitty figurines; who cares, other than you? You should have something that’s just for you, that stokes your fire and gets you excited and takes your mind off your job, bills, the leaking kitchen faucet and cat barf downstairs that needs to be cleaned up.
Live a little!