460 words. 5 minutes to read.
It began when my nice luxury Peugeot station wagon died, four years ago.
The cam belt broke. Exeunt engine.
Luckily, a close student friend of mine was selling her car – a tiny 1997 Starlet, a 2 door hatchback.
We bought it on the spot. $2300 cash. We needed a car urgently.
The car had no power windows, no stereo, no heating to speak of, and it was 16 years old… but it was reliable and very economical.
We dubbed the tiny car “The Beast”. I fell in love with its gutsy rawness.
The Beast looked very odd compared to all the huge luxury 4WD trucks and station wagons the other mothers drove their kids to school in, when I drove to school on Monday.
I realised with a shock that
a) I didn’t care and
b) The Beast was perfectly adequate for my family, even though it was dwarfed by the cars around it.
Other parents commented on The Beast, but instead of being derogatory like I expected, they sounded almost wistful.
Like me, perhaps it reminded them of the freedom we’d had before society made us feel we had to fit in and impress each other with huge cars, big houses, and manicured lawns.
I started thinking, why did I have the huge mortgage, the fancy clothes, the expensive haircut, the designer phone?
Why did I have all this stuff in the first place, if what really made me happy was freedom?
I realised that
– my days at the beach made me happier than trips to the mall.
– my huge country home and farm impressed others, but to me it represented work and stress.
– my expensive consumer goods made me worry.
– what I truly valued was peace, freedom and being out in nature.
It sounds odd that a car could make me begin to question everything about my life, but it did.
Once I began questioning, the questioning didn’t stop. I started examining every aspect of my life. Most of my life changed as a result. I fundamentally changed the person I am.
These days I’m far less burdened by stuff. I live a much simpler life. I have much more free time, I appreciate life more and I’m much happier.
I’ve heard a lot of minimalist journeys are sparked by one thing. Divorce, death, babies, economic hardship.
Mine was sparked by a gutsy little car.