4/09/2008

Getting More Mileage Out of Life


I never thought the day would come when Tawny wasn't a part of my life. I've spent so much time with her over the last 3 1/2 years that it seemed inevitable that we would be together forever. The daily commutes, the topless drives to anywhere, the vacation in the OBX. Those are good memories. But the relationship is over. We've gone our separate ways. Tawny and I have broken up. I was slowly weaning myself off of my dependence of her. I dropped her off at the dealership last Saturday. I turned around and never looked back. I am now proudly car free. It's no big deal. attitude is everything. if you decide it's possible to live without a car, it will be.

The vast majority of car owners in this country have an addiction to it. And like any addiction, it's a costly one. Most Americans spend their entire adult life feeding this addiction with precious time and money simply because they don't know any other way; they don't know there is a viable alternative to a car based existence. The good news is all it takes to cure a car addiction is a little info and some mild lifestyle reengineering. As author Katie Alford writes in her book Divorce Your Car! "Car dependency is a psychological addiction, not a physical one." From birth, cars are as much a part of daily existence for most of us as eating and sleeping. It's no wonder most Americans don't question why or whether they need a car-they just accept it as a necessary part of life. Driving is remarkably habitual. Once you settle into a habit, it appears to be the only way to do things. but now that I've switched to a bike/walk/public transportation lifestyle, it no longer occurs to me to use a car for everything. All the whining about being out of shape or too old or that biking isn't safe is just a rationalization to avoid having to think about your life and actually implement changes to improve it. Without a car you learn to plan ahead, to be patient and to delay instant gradification. Part of living car free involves reevaluating, rearranging and streamlining some of your activities for better efficiency.

Car free living makes exercise a part of your life, not something else you have to try to fit into your busy schedule. And exercise is something I sorely need. Chronic and I have taken up biking as a hobby. I walk 1 1/2 miles roundtrip to the bus stop every weekday. I've come to realize that cars are mostly a way to display status. Im not out to impress anyone, at least not anymore. Financial independence is more important to me and my family than image.

The environmental movement has finally won me over. I believe in protecting the environment. "Think globally and act locally." Getting rid of my car is my way of reducing pollution.

Perhaps the most valuable benefit of car-free living is peace of mind. It comes from the cumulative effect of the many smaller benefits of the lifestyle. For example, solid personal finances and good health are essential to peace of mind. And peace of mind is the foundation for building a high quality of life. When you get rid of your car you may find that all the benefits add up to one big payoff - a richer, healthier, less stressed life.