THE BLOG
08/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Keyless Ignition; Automobile Karma for Living

I have been thinking about a cool new feature in my new car all week. My loyal, decade old mini-van, of 114,000 miles and 20-odd bumper stickers has been retired to make way for an energy efficient Hybrid. The technological changes from 1999 to 2009 have been significant. What an interesting experience. Somehow the engine knows that it is okay to ignite when I push the power button, no key required. A little device, a fob, sits in a cup in the dashboard, or in my pocket or bag.

So I did a little reading up on how cars work, a departure from figuring out how to serve 600 people in 15 minutes or less. Keyless ignition -- something new but there is something about the concept that has been just growing on me.

It is an interesting development in the car industry, a part of the options one saw initially in luxury cars, now extending into the more affordable lines. In 2007, as the Keyless Ignition system became more popular in luxury cars, an automotive writer compared it to the advent of the TV remote in terms of convenience, but also to illustrate how a radical development rapidly became a new baseline standard. Who would ever consider getting up from the couch to change a channel or switch a DVD now?

And in the world of automotive ignition, we've come a long way baby. I love the nutshell of engine mechanics and ignition: it all starts with a perfectly timed spark. Another thing -- the ignition needs to be perfectly synchronized with the other components of the engine. If ignition fires at the wrong time, all resulting steps are affected.

And no matter how many times I have read and re-read the steps of the internal combustion machine, I still struggle to really understand how it works. Just so you know I am trying, the other components that are operating include the piston, spark plugs, distributor caps, rotors, coils and more. The systems involved include intake, compression, combustion and exhaust.

The development of automobile technology over 100 years is pretty amazing. Check out this site for a lot of interesting facts and save me the struggle of trying to explain it.

So Keyless Ignition has been haunting me all week because even though I cannot understand how it works in a car, I knew instantly in my gut that it is an operating concept that permeates our lives.

Here is how it works: "Push -button keyless start couldn't be simpler. The driver slides behind the wheel, with the key fob in her pocket, briefcase or purse. The car's system recognizes the presence of the fob, and the driver needn't remove it to wake up the engine. All she needs to do to get the motor running is depress the brake pedal, and push a button on the control panel.

Shutting off the engine is just as hassle-free, and is accomplished by merely pressing the start/stop button." (Warren Clarke, 2007)

The day after the car came home, my first driving experience was going upstate to pick up my son at camp. He came with me to visit some cousins. Sitting side by side for the drive there was not a lot of conversation, with Sam plugged into his iPod, and me driving. But there was something so vibrant and wonderful about being together -- and it struck me that it was a Keyless Ignition moment between us. We didn't have to talk; yet the connection was there.

Keyless ignition is not a new concept. It is an intuitive understanding, an implicit connection that individuals recognize in each other when the chemistry is just right, or when the do-er is perfectly matched to the task. It is the oarlocks properly balanced in the rowboat; the farmer understanding the soil; the wedding planner reading the mind of the bride to be. It is when you look at someone you know and/or love and anticipate what they most need next.

Keyless ignition is an affirmation. It is also a spark between 2 individuals that results in combustion -- meaning ideas, experiences, action and even love. The car recognizes the presence of an object that is allowed to start the process of creating energy to propel it forward.

And an added element, is that in spite of everything we believe about work and life -- that it is filled with difficult challenges and countless obstacles; that we struggle to achieve success and satisfaction; that there are never ending battles to advance our myriad of causes forward; there is also Keyless Ignition, when things can occur with great fluidity -- to add balance and sweetness to our lives.

What metaphor is more powerful?

So my new best wish for my co-workers, clients, and the people I love -- may you have a bounty of keyless ignition moments. It is not a luxury item, or a modern convenience. It is a timeless spark that means a connection is being made.