Owning a Classic

At the end of the day, we all want to feel like we own a classic relationship, marriage, body, career, house or whatever. To have people look at what we have and say “I didn’t think this could last that long”.

Think about a car for a sec…

It’s the car you want. No other one will do. It’s next year’s model. You save for it, make sacrifices for it and are ok with the idea of paying for it for many years ahead. As a matter of fact, you’re ok with whatever sacrifices you have to make now, just to take that car home. You envision driving it and taking it everywhere. You commit to washing it every week and getting a paint job every few years. Sometimes you even tell yourself that if the car ran well forever, you wouldn’t change it…you wouldn’t need another car. “I’ll drive this car until it falls apart”….so you tell yourself.
So you leave the dealership feeling like the songs “I’m too sexy” by Right Said Fred and “U can’t touch this” by MC Hammer were both about you.

People can’t stop congratulating you. You wash the car every week, you go easy on the speed bumps and you never ever park in a tight spot just in case some barbarian scratches your new baby.

But then, life begins to happen. You get busy, the high fives, the oohhs, the aahhss and the ooommmggeeess all fade. Three newer models have come out since you got your car and the motivation to keep it in tip top shape has dwindled.
Now your back seat is packed with crap. Flip flops, the sweater you swore you’d take back to your closet…a month ago, the ripped magazine you’ve been trying to read for like 2 months, loose paper, and oh yea…can’t forget…the McDonalds bag you ate out of…last week.
Your trunk? Let’s not even go there. If you had to pick someone up from the airport right now,….well, let’s just hope his/her bags fit in the back seat because there is enough junk in your trunk –No pun intended :o)– to have a junk sale.

If it were indeed true that you HAD to stick to that car and you couldn’t change your car every 4-6 years, you’d be setting yourself up for a long time of miserable driving if you treated your car that way. A few things will happen:

1)You will have MULTIPLE MAJOR breakdowns. The type that will cost much to fix.
2)Your car will change from a thing of joy to simply a machine that you drive everywhere. It will only be …. “a means to an end”.
3)You will spend a long time driving an “old” car that will just go from bad to worse.

That car is like your relationship, your marriage, your body, your career, your finances, your house… etc

Think about newly married couples or people who have just started a relationship. Each person is so ready to give up so much for it. It feels easy to sacrifice for the other person. Love is in the air, congratulations ring from every corner of the room, girlfriends give unlimited “aawws” and the fellas give the “you picked well” nod. You tell yourself that you’ll be the best for that person. You even have a plan for it.

Then life happens…the friends and family go home, there is nothing to really aaww and oohh about. “Newer models” of your partner are launched, “updated versions” are released that seem to have fixed most of the bugs in the version you have,  stress clouds your ability to do the things you swore you’d do to keep the care going.

Same thing applies to our bodies…we start a work out plan that works and we lose weight or get ripped…then life happens. We get promoted at work, the dog eats the cat and now the mice come out to play and working out loses its priority. Two years later, you can’t make it up a flight of stairs without feeling like you’re about to pass out.

Relationships-Finances-Physical Fitness-Home Purchases-Career….you get the point.

Classics aren’t made that way though…oh no. Ever see a well-maintained classic up close? It’s old. Yes. Sure it was made decades ago and many models have been made after it. However, to that owner, it was always “THE car” and because of that, the owner has treated that car in a way that takes it from beauty to an elegance it didn’t have even when it was brand new.
The paint job is on point, open the hood and the engine is wiped down…no oil spills. Most parts are original and the parts that needed to be changed were changed. Lubrication and oil changes were frequent and car washes always included INTERIOR detailing, not just the exterior wash down.

So what makes a car a beautiful, respected and elegant classic? What does a car owner do to have a car like that 30 years from now? How do you build a relationship that can still get oohhs and aahhs 30 years from now?

1) The owner REALLY buys the car with the future in mind.

2)The owner understands that in order to avoid MULTIPLE MAJOR breakdowns, he/she must pay attention to the details…and fix the issues while they are still small

3)The owner appreciates the compliments and the attention that happens when the car is new but realizes deep down that the real work and hence the real compliment, is in maintaining the car when wear and tear start to kick in.

The real compliment of a relationship is not how cute they look together when it’s all new but in how well they are still united when wear and tear should have eroded that way. They enjoy the moment now that comes from the newness, but they are not defined by it. In other words, they are not unaware of the work it takes to get them to “classic” status.

The owner of that car understands that soon enough, all the initial attention from the new purchase will wear out. Newer models will be made that may be faster and have a better radio. He/she also knows, however, that what will bring the crowd back to “oohh” and “aahh” 30years from now, is the quality of time and effort spent in that garage…just the two of them- car and owner. Oil spills during oil changes, unexpected breakdowns, clean ups, car washes, dirty jeans, clanking tools, and greased finger nails.

That car is your marriage…your body…your finances etc. If you want it to benefit you 30 years from now, you’ve got to pay a lot of attention to its maintenance. You can’t just be the owner… you have to be the mechanic too.

Think of those marriages we see that still look good after 30 years…think of those people in their 50s who still look good. We marvel at them and we wonder how they did it. It’s not that younger men or women didn’t come their way…it’s not that they didn’t annoy each other…it’s  just that each one became the mechanic of this “car” and held on to it long enough to become a classic. Refreshingly, if they do that long enough, they start to get the

Refreshingly, if they do that long enough, they start to get the oohhs and aahhs again just like when it was brand new.
However, if they didn’t maintain the “car” –marriage-body-house-finances well enough, they would never hear those oohhs and aahhs ever again. The car would turn into just another old car that becomes un-drivable and costs too much to hold on to.

Sometimes what’s most fascinating about a classic is not how much it has changed, but how much it hasn’t.