As someone who struggles to attach to physical possessions in any meaningful way, you can imagine my angst when it’s time to go car shopping. It’s not the top of my priority list and although I try to get excited about the thought of a new car, it just doesn’t resonate through me. I’m not sure if it’s because I just don’t get vehicles in general or it’s the process one must go through in obtaining one. It’s something we all must do if we want a vehicle on the road and there really is no way around it. I’ve owned many vehicles in my life and they’ve all been practical purchases. I’m at a time in my life where I no longer need a family sedan and I’ve actually been thinking for the last year that I have outgrown my car. My boys, one in particular who is much more excited about cars, has encouraged me to dream a little…colour, style, features…I tried, but the reality is: a car is a car, no feelings attach to it, no matter how much I want to force it.
The universe has a strange way of pulling us along. While I was in Nassau, I was in a car accident with the taxi taking me from the airport to the marina and at the same time, Stéphan was in an accident totalling my car back at home. We both walked away unharmed but facing the inevitability of the path ahead of us. I came home to the news of needing a new car and thus begins the journey. I reviewed what had been important a year ago when I was dreaming a wee bit: a hatchback, room to throw a bike and travel gear in it, standard would be fun again, smaller than what I had and after this extended winter, seat warmers where a priority and oh yeah, I wanted a colour that I really liked, ideally an orange or brown car. So, off we went, to the dealership and as we pulled in I spotted this lime green Accent that seemed to be calling out to me. I ignored it though and focused on brown and orange…nothing was grabbing me. Within the hour, I knew the car, colour and model that I wanted. There was just one problem, there was not that model on this lot or even a standard Accent for me to try. What seemed so simple suddenly became really complicated. We agree to take another day and drive to Burlington to test drive one there and then we learn Woodstock is where it’s at. I took the night to discuss the options with the boys from a practical perspective and then sat with it in meditation and determined the number it should cost me. We drove to Woodstock, met a very respectful salesman who got me in to the car I was looking at and off we went. He did up some quick numbers and without any pressure we were on our way again. Unbeknownst to him, the numbers he gave me were $24 less than the number I had decided on the night before. I knew I had found my car. Out of loyalty to my local dealership, I went back to them to find out their price and was surprised to find the numbers almost $2000. more. And there I was, pulled in to the world of games in the car business. I don’t know how you escape them. I thought I had been clear in my intent and doing the responsible thing, taking care of the information that I required and all of a sudden I was sucked in to this dark vortex of confusion, uncertainty, inauthenticity and they wanted me to play with them. It all felt too familiar when 6 years earlier I had purchased a vehicle there and felt like I had been had when it was all over and done with. I was determined that would never happen again. It was hard work to remove myself from the emotions of the experience that was presented to me and suddenly it hit me, “this is my opportunity to do it differently”. Karma at its best! I stayed focused on the facts; I called the other salesman back in Woodstock and got everyone on the same page. The games stopped there. I was prepared to close the deal with either dealership at the price that I felt was right or walk out and understand that car was not mine after all. An hour later, the deal was done and I was the owner of a lime green Accent identical to the one that had caught my eye when we arrived the day earlier.
Learning our lessons, practicing doing something differently is not easy. It is frustrating and exhausting. If we can realize that the experience is not about buying a car but rather seeing who we are in life and how we navigate the bumps that our thrown our way is really what it is all about. Interestingly, the car salesman that closed the deal with me apologized saying this is not the way he likes to do business and there was a good lesson in it for him. Ahhh, karma again, giving us all the opportunity to learn and grow! I’ve changed my mind about car shopping in the last 24hours, buying a car can be one of the greatest experiences ever. Perhaps, I’ve learned to appreciate car shopping a little bit more and just maybe this time, I’ll be excited when my new 6 speed green Accent is on its way home!
The frustration came through the idea of attachment and ownership. The pressure comes from the dealership having what the customer wants (that specific car that the customer now feels emotionally attached to), the customer having the money (that the salesman also is emotionally attached to). Let’s be fair, most of us are attached emotionally somehow, even if it’s in the form of resistance to money. The dealerships fight out deals amongst themselves as they have what another wants. The competition is fierce and the fight is on, the customer in the least knowledgeable and smallest position having to hold their own in this big unknown world. My challenge in buying this car was to stay out of the fight, for ownership, the stories of gaining and losing, having and not having, mine and yours and stay true to my belief system that having is connected together and when we stay out of the stories it can land effortlessly.
The story of buying a car is really quite simple. I want a particular car that will serve my needs and support my life journey; it is in existence and there is a price (dollar amount) that I must pay. Where it is and what that amount is does not need to be difficult. It’s only in the connection with the chaos, the stories that are spinning around us that make it difficult. If we stay centred and true to what we know then it lines up, all in universal order. There is no need for us to control anything or force anything. We just need to do what feels easy and desirable in that moment. When we find our self not in that joyful moment, caught in the chaos it is our responsibility to stop what we are doing and find our way back before we engage further. This is the practice of life! Let’s enjoy the ride…and for me, it will be in a sporty little green Accent bombing around town.