I’m shopping for a used car – a Prius – and at any given time there is a small pool of well-maintained second-generations Priuses (Prii?) with less than 125K miles available for under $8000 within a hundred-mile radius of zip code 11211 whose owners can meet at a mutually convenient time to get the car inspected by an independent mechanic. But while I’m browsing, “any given time” feels more like “all given times,” and I notice myself looking outside my price and distance and growing more accepting of suspicious vehicle histories, because, like, what if I don’t find anything before my rental car is up.
I’m ignoring the wilderness of Priuses not yet on the market. And the deep wilderness beyond that – extending my rental car, using alternate forms of transportation, or returning to a living situation that doesn’t necessitate a car. Not to mention the even-deeper wilderness of things I can’t imagine. We’re constantly at the edge of this wilderness in all areas of our lives, from our relationships (the person we’ll meet tomorrow) to work (the gig we’ll get emailed about next week) to writing (the experience this summer that turns into a book three years later). To be alive is to walk into the wild.
I’ll find my perfect car not by stressing over whether I’m going to find the perfect car, but by waiting for the conditions of perfection to change, on their own, so that when they do align, I’ll at least be there to appreciate it. A wise person told me that the best way to shop for a used car is to first tell yourself, I don’t need a car.
I don’t need a car.