Just The Basics Please

Maybe it's the sobering documentary "Alone In The Wilderness" that I watched a few nights ago, which got me thinking about our cluttered lifestyles and the things we take for granted in our daily lives. I pondered the choices we make, the things we own that were exciting once but no longer. The unproductive things we do and the squandered opportunities to find beauty in the world's most basic elements.
Or maybe it was the story I was told firsthand during dinner tonight by my new Californian acquaintance who rode his BMW motorbike from New York to Washington State, and then up to Alaska to the Arctic Ocean. He grimaced that the stereotypical wildlife scenarios which were appearing road side were becoming mundane and boring. A Bear catching a salmon in a road side stream. An eagle soaring down to catch a prey.
It may have been the renewing experience of restoring an old canoe today, which got me thinking about paddling down still Bowron Lakes, and resting my eyes on the endless uninterrupted horizon, with nothing but the soft wade of the water and a few drips syphoning off the end of my paddle to break the deafening silence of no mans land.

Rear wheel drive hoonage
Or maybe, just maybe, it took buying a second hand 21 year old BMW to really, truly, get me thinking about the inner sanctum of happiness. I've only owned the little convertible for a few days now, and there have already been countless moments of sheer happiness. Laugh out loud happiness. Bite your cheek moments of embarrassing happiness. With the sun beaming down, the 6 cylinder soundtrack, and one hand on the BMW five speed shifter, I experienced sheer happiness. Some moments were so profound, I found myself scared at the thought that I had been living in ignorance of what truly drove me to happiness. Having blocked off my most basic cravings with excess materialistic junk which failed to improve the quality of my life. It's a scary thought because if it holds weight, then what am I doing driving a 3 year old sports car as my daily driver if that isn't what maximizes my happiness? Why did I spend all that money on a newer car when for less than a 10th of the price I could have purchased something better? Something which interacts with my enthusiast roots in a more entertaining manner.  No matter the compromises I have to make when driving an older car, I've come to notice that there is something to be said for simple mechanics and a pure man-machine connection.

Taken in Saint Paul de Vence, France
The satisfaction one receives from building something with your own hands is infinitely greater than if you had bought it at the store. The same goes for older cars which you have to fiddle around with a bit to keep them going. New cars have a tendency to take the excitement out of driving. No matter how expensive or performance oriented, a Ferrari 458 Italia will not include you in the driving mechanics as well as a 1972 Iso Grifo will. In an attempt to simplify our lives by automating things, we're removing ourselves from what drives us, our animal spirits. We remove ourselves from our basic identity, the things that makes us truly happy and improve the quality of our lives. But I'll refrain from becoming too philosophical and talking nonsense. So my advice is simple and in my realm of expertise. Instead of buying a new car, instead spruce up your life, get happier, and buy an older car which needs a little love to keep going, has a standard gearbox and a sound track to die for. If you're a car enthusiast, you should be willing to make the trade off, which in turn should make you laugh out loud infinitely more than that new 2012 Hyundai Genesis will.

As a side note: I'm not suggesting that older cars are plainly more fun than any new car. All I'm saying is that if you're willing to make the trade off, something only a true enthusiast can rationalize, that person will be happier in a simple classic than in a new car. For track use however, I'd take an M3 GTS, GT3RS R, or 458 Challenge please.

Just my two cents. It's worked for me, it may just work for you. Happy Driving!