Not long ago I was considering financing a new car. I’ve never purchased a new car from a dealer before and I’ve secretly always wanted a Ford F150 truck. I must be a guy thing, I don’t know, but I thought to myself…
“You know, Baz…you’ve never owned a brand new vehicle and at age 60, well let’s just say it’s time, right?”
Damn right, I agreed. Even my BMW 1150GS motorcycle that I rode across the US (and back) in the summer of 2016 is a 2000 model. So, I’m kind of due for something shiny and new.
I’m not one to rush into a big purchase. However, once I make up my mind about one, I can seldom be deferred.
When I decided to re-enter the motorcycling world about five years ago, it only took me six months to ride home on my first BMW (used, of course). Then when I upgraded to a second BMW 1100RT (think cop bike) and later my BMW 1150GS, I did so without much delay, and again, purchased older models.
I considered it for about two months before deciding against it. It wasn’t a matter of price, nor was it due to any other factor that one might attribute to cost, such as additional insurance premiums, parking, maintenance, etc.
So why the change in heart?
While my change in attitude about getting a shiny new truck surprised me, after sitting with the idea for a few months, I actually wasn’t all that surprised.
Sounds weird, I know. But here’s why.
Minimalism has changed me, and for the better.
The 2006 Ford Escape XLT that you see at the top of this post was passed on to me by my mother after my father passed away last year. It was the last vehicle he purchased. He purchased it with cash as he eschewed having monthly payments if they weren’t necessary.
My mother had given up driving about ten years prior, and when my dad was forced to also relinquish his driving privileges, he didn’t go quietly into the placid population of non-driving seniors. He fought it bitterly, even begged his doctor—who’d just diagnosed him with Alzheimer’s dementia—to break with her legal obligation to send his diagnosis to the California state Department of Motor Vehicles.
He knew it would result in no longer being able to drive and, from his perspective, it represented the loss of his independent mobility. Like I said, he didn’t go quietly.
Since I was his caregiver for the last two years of his life, and although it wasn’t specified in my father’s will, my mother decided she wanted me to have his silver Escape. I had only the BMW 1150GS for transportation at the time and had been driving their cars to and from doctor’s appointments and shopping for the last two years that I’d taken care of my dad.
When I later moved to Orange County in southern California in 2017 (a land of with as many pristine, sandy beaches as there are tanned plastic surgery patients), I drove the Escape and left my motorcycle garaged in San Jose.
Fast Forward to Today
When I realized that my heart and mind had changed about obtaining a new vehicle, it wasn’t due to any sentimental value attached to my dad’s memory. Although I’m grateful for having this extension of his presence at this time, I could just as easily let it go.
Nothing is permanent and there will come a time when it needs to be replaced. But that day is not today.
My memories of my father aren’t attached to his SUV, or photos I have of him on various devices, nor in any other physical possession. They live in my mind and heart.
Minimalism brought me to this place
Recently, after a particularly long workday, I exited my office building and walked in solitude across the Noguchi Garden in Costa Mesa and into the parking structure where my SUV was parked.
I paused for a few seconds and looked at it where it stood alone, having been abandoned by other vehicles, and realized how silly the idea of replacing it really was.
It has 80,000+ miles on the engine. It runs like a charm (knock on wood), the air conditioning works great as does the radio and CD changer (though I don’t actually own any CDs…but maybe for guests, you know?)
I looked at my smallish four-door SUV and felt a sense of peace about my decision.
It was like little cartoon versions of Joshua and Ryan of The Minimalists with halos had appeared on my shoulder and gently whispered…”Will a new truck, car, or motorcycle really change anything in your life, Baz?” …and poof, they were gone. 😆
And, of course, changing my vehicle wouldn’t change anything in my life. I’d own a new truck, but I’d also own a new a truck payment and I’m perfectly content with not having one of those. Plus, it is enough for me.
Minimalism changes how you think
This experience can only arise from a sense of satisfaction with what one has. Other’s might argue that they, too, are deferring the purchase of a new vehicle, perhaps because of cost or interest rates or some other factor, and feel that my experience isn’t any different.
But I’d argue that the decision to hold off purchasing anything because of cost has its roots in the regret evoked by the surrender to the limits of one’s financial resources.
I, too have limited financial resources. However, the difference is the surrender I experienced isn’t one tinged with regret, but liberally splashed with gratitude.
Gratitude for what I have and knowing that it is enough.