As I’m getting ready to get my first car that I have purchased for myself, I decided to take the old girl out for one last spin. My current car is a 2004 silver Toyota Rav4. My parents bought it brand new and I had the privilege of driving it for the last half of its life with us.
I’ve always been a car enthusiast, no matter the car, how expensive or how fast, I have always tried to appreciate cars in their whole. So while it is exciting for me to obtain truly my first car, this Rav4 has so much meaning and history for me, it would have been impossible to give it up without honouring it properly.
I am currently sitting in my car on the UofT campus, having driven it around to various places all over the GTA that are significant to me. It is here that I reflect because, like the car, this university has a lot of meaning for me being the place where I, and most people, spend their most formative years.
What does a car represent? Is it significant? Does it have meaning or is it just an object, a tool? The answer is different for everyone but I think that for many people, a car represents freedom. The physical freedom of being able to go almost anywhere you choose. That feeling you get when you truly take control of a car confidently for the first time, with no one directing you where to go or how to drive, you realize… you’re free.
For me, that was so very true, but my first solo driving experiences also represented so much more than just physical freedom. It also meant emotional freedom, mental separation, just… an escape from the place that I called home.
To me, a car also represents isolation, but in the very best way. Despite loving to hang out with friends and be around people, I am an introvert at the end of the day and I cherish my solitude and silence. Having the time and space to be alone, to introspect and just observe the world around me while also observing within myself has been so precious to me these past many years, it is where I feel most comfortable and most authentic. The car enables me to have this experience even though I may be on a road surrounded by cars. When I’m in the car, alone, isolated, I feel like I am separate from everything else and that I feel most free to be real and express myself and just be myself. This is all the more amplified when I’ve driven on long trips and long stretches of road with no one else for hundreds of kilometres. Few things can top driving a long stretch of road with no one in sight, windows down and music up.
To me… driving is the ultimate meditation. And the car is my conduit. With all of its freedom and isolation, it is; honestly, where I feel most at home.
Lastly, I feel that cars also represent the ultimate expression of me. It embodies so many things that I share, whether it be personal interests or outlooks on life. Cars are at the intersection of brilliant engineering and beautiful design. The culmination of many technologies developed over centuries and often a showroom for new technologies in our hi-tech world. They also represent expressions of art, lines and identity. They are perfect machines, highly precise and highly controlled. Everything follows rules and things, when they work, will do exactly what they’re supposed to. They are an expression of efficiency, science and technology, and natural design. It is beautiful to me how, cars are perfectly controlled machines, with no unknown variables; but when pared with the road and the environment, the whole system is as unpredictable as anything else. At that moment, it is then up to you, as the driver, as the source of control, to mesh the car with the environment and ultimately, dictate the experience.
That feels relevant to me because I believe that we, as human beings, are perfect but when we are then thrown into the world and society at large, the environment, we fall apart. It is up to us to navigate our lives with control to make our experience the best possible.
I will miss this car, it has taken me through many life experiences and moments, and enabled me to experience the world in whole new ways. There is a lot of history and meaning here.