My history has been to hold onto old cars too long. I end up paying for repairs until our mechanic says, “Uh, I think you’re putting money into a black hole here.” I did it again with Max, but we finally did part ways with it. We did it reluctantly. We even took pictures of Max the day we traded it in on a new car. With lumps in our throats we said goodbye to it. We wondered where our beloved old car would end up. We hoped it could finally get fixed and someone somewhere would end up with a wonderful car. Then, after agreeing to buy the new car and signing mountains of papers that are required for that transaction, we drove away.
So why the big deal about a car? Isn’t it interesting how we can get so attached to things? In this case it was a car, but we can do that with all sorts of other things. It could be a job, a particular position, a house, a locale in which we live, or any number of things. I still have the first aloha shirt I ever bought hanging in my closet. I have it there for purely sentimental reasons because it is now 18 years old and so disreputable Laurie will not let me wear it. Ever.
The lesson of Max, our old car, for me is that regardless of how much importance or sentiment we attach to things, in reality they don’t matter. Though I was sure it could not be so, Max is not missed. The car is gone and all but happily forgotten, replaced by a new and improved version. There is one thing that this will never be true of in this world, and that is people. My first son is gone and he will never be forgotten. He will always be missed. My Dad is gone. He cannot be replaced. He is still missed, and that will not change as long as I live.
It is obvious to say that people are what matters in our lives. Yet, as obvious as it may be, we all find it easy to lose track of that fundamental truth from time to time. We get caught up in the pursuit of things. We stress over cars, houses, jobs, careers, positions, places to live to the point where we even ignore people around us, or at least fail to love them as we should. How crucial for us to remember, if it is a thing it can be replaced, sometimes with something better. What can never be replaced is people.