Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thank You, Randy Pausch

And when I thought my week could not get any worse… I am actually being facetious: life can ALWAYS get worse.

Anyway, next time I complain about long hours and bad hair days, I’ll know what’s coming. Or at least I know what this week has brought.

Today, I go do my biweekly grocery run, and I get into a crash. A car crash, that is. I was due for one, I figured, since my small Echo has been hit more times, and regularly, but has been “on an accident break” since 2007, I think. I swear this car is an accident magnet! People hit it when it’s parked, and I am not even in it.

Anyway, so, on a gray, pouring outside kind of day, one of those days when you don’t feel in the least bit guilty for eating a loaded pizza all on your own, I get out of the said grocery store parking lot, and a lady on the opposite side of my space has the same plan: to get out too. I was all the way pulled out of my spot, and ready to straighten my wheel when she backs out of her spot, full force. And hits me.

We both got scratches on our back bumpers. She has a smaller scratch, I have a bigger one, as it always happens when my Echo and a bigger (Acura) car hit each other.

We looked at the damage. We both realized it’s not worth calling anyone, or getting the insurance involved; we exchanged phone numbers and license numbers, and … we’ll see how and if we’re going to fix this… Yes, I did say “if”.

Usually, when I get into one of these, no matter how small the damage, I am completely compulsive about getting it fixed right away, to make my car look as good as new. For some reason, this time (and I “blame” Randy Pausch for this), I am fine with a scratch on my bumper, be it however monstrous looking (it’s pretty tacky!). This one time, I am really letting go of my control over “everything has to look just perfect or else I can’t sleep at night”, and just put this on hold for a bit.

I have trips to plan, work to do, life to live. The car works fine. The trunk is not damaged at all. Most importantly, I and the lady in the other car are FINE. She even admitted that it was her fault, but I don’t even think that. It was a complete accident, on both of our parts. I also think a can of paint will do the fix-up! So, no fretting at all.

This first time, I don’t really care whether I fix it today, this week or in the next year. As it happens, bumpers are not made of metal anymore, so it won’t even rust. Sure, it looks ugly, but I have decided that my car is not a mirror of who I am, after all. So, I will let go, and I am actually breathing easier because this one burden is off my shoulders.

Now, I know that a car’s purpose is to “get you from point A to point B. They are utilitarian devices, not expressions of social status”, as Pausch says it in Chapter 18 of his “The Last Lecture” book. And he continues: “… if your trashcan or wheelbarrow has a dent in it, you don’t buy a new one. Maybe that’s because we don’t use trashcans and wheelbarrows to communicate our social status or identity to others. (…) Not everything needs to be fixed.”

I love that lesson! He is so right. We get so wrapped up in the fact that our lives are not oh, just so perfect on the outside, we so hold on, teeth grinding, to our appearances, our pants are not razor-sharp, and our cars don’t have a bigger monthly payment than our homes.

And we miss the stuff that makes life real! We miss the “little” things, like the fact that we have a job to go to at all to spend long hours in; the fact that we can afford a car at all; the fact that we’re lucky to go from point A to point B without waiting for half an hour for the bus, or the train in the rain; the fact that we’re walking on our two feet, and moving right along from day to day, without having to wait for others to give us a ride.

So, this one time, I will just shrug, smile, and be grateful for what I do have. And the scratch can wait. And as I have said it before, and as I know this might just jinx me even worse: I am grateful for the band aids, some days. And for good books!

1 comment:

S. A. said...

Dear A.W.,

I came across to your blog while I was researching about Randy Pausch. I am writing about a lecture which I watched/listened recently, as I am taking a writing course. Anyway,I really liked your stile, and I read the whole thing. I usually skimming a text, but there was something genuine in your story, or may be because I also pretty often get into a car crash, and also hate the scratches, and also "completely compulsive about getting it fixed right away". So, my point is, A.W., you should continue this story, and one day you will find a publisher. I will be first in line when you'll come to Vancouver, BC, Chapters bookstore to sign your books, just keep your blog updated.

P.S. Just noticed that your astrological sign is same as mine,aries.