I have a suspicion that most people who practice mindfulness, or living in the present, don’t drive jalopies. If they did drive a rust-bucket that at any moment could disintegrate and/or implode, they would already be masters at living in the present and could proceed to practicing other stuff. Their bodies would be finely tuned instruments, with hands sensitive to the slightest vibrations (specifically those in the steering wheel), ears perked (listening for the frayed serpentine belt to snap), nostrils flared (to detect even the faintest whiff of burnt oil), and tongues hanging out (to cool what the air conditioner couldn’t).
Furthermore, I can’t remember the last time I saw someone doing yoga or meditating at a junkyard. People who pull their own parts already know how to contort their bodies to relieve stress, namely the stress of getting their cars back running. Early in our marriage, my wife and I got a yoga DVD and did yoga together once or twice to help me quit worrying. Admittedly, I could “worry a copperhead out of a copper cent.” That’s a common saying around these parts because we have lots of copperheads (plus lots of people with mere pennies, hence the worry). But the main thing I learned from doing yoga is warrior pose is nothing compared to “remove-the-water-pump pose.”
The older I get, the more I find junkyards and scrapyards and even landfills to be oddly serene places. Wandering around a scrapyard looking for the perfect pieces of metal to weld together is a fine way to spend an afternoon. Watching giant bulldozers sail by at the landfill, with seagulls diving overhead and earth trembling underneath, could be as romantic as watching boats come and go in a marina, if only someone would put a bench at the dump site.
And junkyards are great places for quiet reflection. Just last week, I visited our local U-Pull It and did some soul searching. A few days prior, I had experienced a moment of complete presentness when my 1996 Chrysler Sebring lost power going seventy miles per hour down the interstate. Because this phenomenon had happened before on less traveled thoroughfares, I knew nothing was wrong with the car mechanically–just that stupid sensor, the crankshaft sensor, had gone haywire again and decided to power down the vehicle with tractor trailers at warp speed all around me. I’m proud to report I kept my composure. I focused thoroughly on the present and piloted the Sebring safely to the roadside, only stopping to hyperventilate after the handbrake was engaged.
So, a few days later I went to the junkyard hoping to pull a crankshaft sensor and ended up selling my Sebring for scrap. Having mastered mindfulness, it was time to practice letting go and moving on, specifically to a 2008 Toyota Camry with only 150,000 miles.