A few days ago I fired up my 1957 Jaguar. I bought the XK140 from a collector two years ago. He had entered it in the vintage British class and won at Pebble Beach a few years back. The car is a stunning opal white with a worn maroon interior.
It turns heads.
But she demands attention... a lot of attention. And actually, because of that, she's good for me.
I was in route to a mega luau party for 750 seniors from our various Aegis Living communities. I rarely drive the car, maybe two times a year; so I was a bit sheepish. I'm always worried about not doing something right that will make the car break down or explode. This is the kind of car you need to pay attention to when you drive. There is no talking on the phone, no fussing with your radio or checking your GPS. She forces you to pay attention -- intently.
There is just me. The road. And the car.
She sits very low to the ground and has no blinkers, so I felt like my hand was almost dragging the pavement as I tried to signal. I was focused on not grinding gears and on the loose steering in the middle of the road and on giving myself ample braking distance when I needed to stop. But in the midst of my intense focus on my surroundings, I suddenly realized that for a rare few moments -- I was unplugged. Free!
Free of talking on the speaker phone. Free of having my head buried in a text at an intersection. Free of multitasking and responding to the needs at work. And during my drive I noticed how I slowed down my brain and viewed life differently on the road.
I smell the great evergreens all around. I feel the sunshine on my face turn cool as my car ducks into the shade of the tall trees. I wave at people and people smile back and give me the thumbs up.
This car from the past had driven me firmly into the joy of the present. It's a rare joy that technology sneaked up and stole away from us. As we became more efficient in our cars, as cars begin to drive themselves, we dive into more media -- losing all sense of this kind of living.
The generations ahead of us, in their mid-'80s now, know how to do it. They appreciate the breeze in their hair and the smell of fresh cut grass. Simple things.
I think this is what my mom was referring to when she listed "going for a drive" as one of her favorite activities. When a car is so demanding, it makes you drive -- that's a good thing.
As I pulled into the event area and parked, an elderly gentleman walked in front of me, stopped, gave me a thumbs up and said, "You drove that car like it gave you a lifetime of memories."