“How good something is should never be determined by its cost, designer, origin, or its perceived value by others.” – Ashly Lorenzana
The other day while perusing Motortrend’s website as I do on a daily basis, I came across a startling statistic. First of all, for those who don’t know, Motortrend is a popular automotive magazine, which first appeared in September 1949 and has been a favorite of mine for decades.
But I digress. The post was about material possessions – more accurately the average transaction price of a new car or truck sold in American in April 2016. Are you sitting down? It was $33,560 – 2.6% higher than just a month earlier according to automotive researcher Kelly Blue Book.
What is a car really?
While fully aware of new car pricing, this still came as a huge shock to me. Over $30,000 for an automobile, which at the end of the day serves as nothing more than transportation back and forth to work, shopping destinations, entertainment, family dinners and school recitals. But for most of its life, it just sits there idle in garages, driveways and parking lots across America.
The other day I came to another startling static, though a bit more personal. For the first time since I started driving 24 years ago, I now own the same car ten years later (ten years and two months to be exact). That car, a 2006 Pontiac G6, has almost 100,000 miles on it, still looks great stylistically, and hasn’t burdened me with an endless stream of repairs during that decade (excluding wear-and-tear items).
But I come from a long-line of car enthusiasts who probably consider my longevity with the said Pontiac and act of heresy. Three years, maybe five, and then it was time for a new car – always moving “up” with your purchase.
But you get to a point in your life when the utility of something ultimately outweighs its “cost, designer, origin, or its perceived value by others”. I’m happy to say that I’m finally starting to reach that point.
Let’s be honest with each other shall we?
- A $500 handbag serves the same purpose and function as a $30 handbag.
- A $200 watch serves the same purpose and function as a $25 watch.
- A $60,000 car serves the same purpose and function as a $20,000 car.
So then what’s the difference really? Ego.
Debasish Mridha once said, “You cannot enrich yourself with material possessions.”
And that my dear readers is the lesson I’ve learned over the last four decades of living. Material possessions may very well define what others perceive of you, but they are NOT who you are. They won’t make you any happier or more fulfilled; more loved or more respected. They are but temporary gratifications, which are often short lived.
Just so I’m clear, this is not the rant of some guy who’s bitter over the fact that he’s driving around in a ten-year-old Pontiac, and the college kid down the street is driving around in an Audi. Truth be told, if my wife and I felt the value in such a vehicle was warranted, we’d have the means and opportunity to park one in our garage.
But as I said, you get to a point in your life when the utility of something ultimately outweighs its “cost, designer, origin, or its perceived value by others”. And as long as my steady Pontiac doesn’t become a financial burden on my wallet, there’s no need to find a replacement.
Do I still enjoy frequenting car shows and following the latest automotive trends? Absolutely. But at the end of the day what should be most important is “purpose and function” – not image.
Debasish Mridha’s complete quote is as follows: “You cannot enrich yourself with material possessions. However, you can enrich yourself by giving yourself away with love, service, kindness, compassion, and courage.”
Enough said, don’t you think?