Something to Read When You're Bored


My Car is Teaching Me Mindfulness
January 31, 2008, 9:32 am
Filed under: Life | Tags: ,

I have a love-hate relationship with my car. It’s a ’96 Volkswagen GTI and all kinds of trouble. The only things I can think of right now that I like about my car are the turning radius, the sunroof, and the fact that it hasn’t been stolen. So lately it’s been getting up to this new trick of locking the steering wheel roughly every other time I park my car. And the trick to unlocking the steering wheel is to gently jiggle the steering wheel and key until magically the key is able to turn.

The problem I have is with the ‘gently’ part. As I’m sitting in my car, impatient to get somewhere and frequently running late, my irritation at my car for holding things up makes it challenging to resist yanking on the steering wheel as hard as I can and/or hitting something, even though I know that both of these actions are counterproductive. Even when I suppress my furious urges and attempt the advised gentle jiggling, my arms remain possessed by frustration and the movement is still too forceful to achieve the magical unlocking of the ignition.

It isn’t until I stop, take a deep breath, and channel a feeling of calm relaxation that I can manage to manipulate the steering wheel gently enough to convince my car that I am not an uptight car thief (my theory on why the ‘gently’ rule exists to begin with). In the end, the experience reminds me of meditation, where one aims to achieve calm detachment from thoughts and feelings and to observe ideas and emotions drifting through your mind without reacting to them. So unless I figure out how to make my car quit locking the steering wheel on me (am I torquing the wheel when I park? Is my car just over-sensitive?), I guess I’m on the road to becoming a yogi.