I’m not very materialistic these days. I don’t fuss over possessions or designer brands like I used to. I drive a very basic and cheap car too.
The other day, my girlfriend asked me why I wash my car every week. I felt myself get a bit emotional. I thought about her question for a bit and then the answer hit me:
I wash my car every week because I didn’t own my own car for six years.
Losing something makes you want it more.
I had flashy cars for many years. Then, at one point I became financially poor (not mentally).
I knew as I went through this challenging time that I’d have to sell my car — it was inevitable. So, I sold it and didn’t buy another one for a long time.
In the beginning, I went through all sorts of emotions.
I felt incomplete, like a failure and miserable. These feelings passed pretty quickly. This point in my life was the lowest I had ever being. I was lost and had no idea what to do.
“All the self-help advice told me to get a mentor, but I could barely get out of bed and face the world”
I was ashamed of who I was and I was incredibly negative about life. I saw life as a burden that was a daily struggle. There were crippling health conditions I faced into every day and I felt cursed.
“Why didn’t other people have to deal with health issues like?” I would say to myself. I was completely ignorant of the truth which was this: The health issues were caused by me and all of us will deal with health challenges.
On the long road back to making a normal living again and recovering from mental health issues, I began to value the car I once had differently.
I saw owning a car as a privilege rather than something I was entitled to.
I thought about all the people in far away countries who didn’t have any car and had to walk everywhere.
I wanted a car again but I knew I had to earn it; I knew owning a car again would never feel the same.
Not having a car made me see another reality.
I started taking trains to the city which I hadn’t done since a kid.
The cool thing was that because I didn’t have to operate a vehicle, I was free to listen to podcasts and learn something new.
It was around this time that I discovered podcasts from the likes of Tim Ferriss and Lewis Howes.
The stress of having to drive and deal with traffic went away.
My focus changed from “How do I get there quickly?” to “How do I learn something on the way to X place?”
In a weird way, not having a car was more convenient.
We take things like cars for granted.
The challenge with owning expensive material possessions is that once we get them, we take them for granted (like I did).
That fact shouldn’t stop us owning stuff, but it should make us question what we truly need to own. Appreciating the simple things in life like owning a car is not easy.
We’ve learned to make life complicated by filling our minds with too much information and copying the habits and lifestyles we see others display in places like Instagram.
The habit of being grateful for what you have will make you value everything in your life the way it should be.
Those who take what they have for granted will eventually get a nasty wake-up call (like I did) and have to learn this lesson the hard way.
Washing the car made me feel grateful.
To answer the question my girlfriend posed, I wash my car every week because it’s how I demonstrate to myself that I’m grateful to own one.
I know the struggle it took to get back to a place where I could buy a car again. For me, owning a car has a whole new meaning. The road back to owning a car again was a long one and I learned so many lessons along the way.
“Washing the car is how I remind myself of those lessons, so I don’t fall back into the trap of being a selfish asshole again who drives flashy cars and treats others like crap”
That’s why I wash my car.