Gratitude Revisited, Or Lessons From A Little Car

Last year, Little Person managed to wind down the windows of the car and stick her head out the window when I was travelling 50mph or so. Problematic, even before you account for the fact that her glasses were blown off her face and lost for good. (I love the NHS – we didn’t have to pay for replacements.) And she didn’t seem to learn from the experience either. So it was time to downgrade the car.

When I say downgrade the car, I mean go for something that didn’t have wind down windows at the back. I thought we would have to go for a three door, but we found a really good five door with the right sort of windows. And it’s a really small car. Which is handy when you have to fight against the flow of traffic outside a nearby school to get to drop the Little Person off at her school. Every. Single. Day. (Except weekends, for the pedants among us.)

But what does this have to do with gratitude? Well, I find myself offering a prayer of thanksgiving for my car at least once a week. But it’s a smaller car. It doesn’t have half the features of my previous car. I have to turn the lights and windscreen wipers off myself. It’s a proper downgrade. (Except, because it’s got a better engine. And a better power to weight ratio.) You’re not supposed to be grateful for a downgrade.

Except, of course, when the downgrade is exactly what you need. And when I bought the car, I didn’t realise how much of a bonus the smallness of it actually was. I only wanted the windows. But I get easy parking, and a whole lot of other cool stuff from having a small car.

Sometimes it can be like that in life – we think we should be chasing the big flashy dream, when we should be following the small one. The little dream that is truer to who we are. We think we ought to want a big life, but a quieter, simpler life might be the way forward. We think we can solve a problem by throwing money at it, but the reality is, maybe the only thing that will work is time – which is a small thing, eked out moment by moment.

The reason I am grateful for the car, long after the newness factor has worn off, is that it is exactly what I need. I may want parking sensors, but I don’t need them (plus, this way Little Person gets to show off her excellent visuo-spatial skills – and she’s hardly ever wrong). I need a small car that can squeeze through gaps to get us to school on time. That can fit in a week’s worth of groceries in the boot. That has non-windable windows in the back but still has doors.

Gratitude. When your downgrade turns out to be an upgrade.

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