Obsessing About My 1999 Honda

In Uncategorized on July 23, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Submitted By: Gentry

Don’t tell any prospective buyers, but our car is starting to go to shit. In addition to having to replace a side mirror – an unfortunately standard, New England winter, self-inflicted wound – we’ve had to replace an oxygen sensor, the catalytic converter, and a major hose over the last month. The latter part is the cheapest possible remedy to the infrequent and truly inconvenient stalling of our engine. If the hose doesn’t work, the cause is probably a difficult to detect electrical issue that will not only signal the end of our ’99 Honda, but will also compel us to trade the car in instead of selling it privately (and certainly pissing away vital resources in the process).

Since we know the ’99 is coming to an end, we’ve been looking at other cars, vans, and suv’s this week. We want something that seats six so that we can pick up our friend’s kids and our kid’s friends if need be, but we don’t want to go broke in the process. On the prideful side, I also don’t want to cut ‘em completely off by getting a mini-van.

Throughout this process, I’ve found myself on the verge of obsession about our next vehicle. Should we get a Toyota Highlander? If so, I don’t want one with the cooperative Hybrid drive. As dad would say, that’s just another thing to fix. I liked the Ford Freestyle and it’s renamed but virtually the same successor Taurus X. But the cheaper front end price results in a lower resale value and reduced durability. What about the Honda Pilot? We’ve had good experiences in the past, but can I justify spending $19K of a freaking suv?

This is not the first time I’ve obsessed about a potential purchase. I approached the long delayed purchase of an IPod – ended up with a 36 gig touch – and our new laptop – flirted with the mac, but wasn’t willing to pay a 66% premium over the Toshiba Satellite – as well.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a passionate proponent or frequent victim of retail therapy, but when I decide to buy something, the potential purchase often dominates my already limited cognitive space.

Why am I obsessed with an eventual purchase?

I’m starting to wonder if this obsession is a warped refraction of my calling to steward God’s creation. Since I’m not driven to plant and cultivate a garden or pursue shop class as soul craft, purchasing might be the passive, pitiful way that I try to express my agency and responsibility for creation. In my darkest, least reflective moments, maybe I am because I purchase, I am because I own, I am because my dining set defines me as a person.

I’ll probably never plant heirloom tomatoes, or be interested in conversations focused on them, or find satisfaction in being able to fit pipe to pipe in order to direct the flow of water and so responsibly dispense of my family’s waste. I don’t mean to denigrate those practices in any way. In fact, just this week when Preston decided to put an actual instead of metaphorical number 2 in the toilet and jammed up the works I wished I could have had as valuable a skill set – and the union wages of – as the plumber.

 But that’s not me. So in order to move beyond the trap of stewardship as shopping, I’ll have to keep trying to discipline mind and body to care for others by intentional accompaniment, provoking reflection and possibly encounter through the typed word, and skillfully working words and stories into doors that open into worlds where lives are not circumscribed by lonely, oversexed uncles and our days are not defined by purchases, but the investment of prayers, checking accounts, and listening ears in the broken but beautiful, half-whole yet potentially holy, lives of others. 


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