I heard recently that one of the best ways a person can begin improving himself is to write his own obituary — well before the day of his demise. I think it was a radio piece on Stephen Covey, who died recently. The purpose of the exercise is to make you think really good and hard about what you wish to become (rather than what you actually are), a manifesto of sorts to get you working toward that goal of fully being yourself. The ultimate in fulfillment.
I don’t know why it stuck with me, but it got me thinking about my own path and how I impact (and would like to impact) others during my very short stint here on earth.
One word: sunshine.
Sunshine is happy. Sunshine is warm. Sunshine is inviting. Sunshine (with water droplets and the right angle of the sun) makes rainbows. Without it, we would all have a terrible time living and existing. I want to be sunshine.
I’ve met many makers of sunshine here on WordPress, off recent, Amber at The Usual Bliss blog. Like me, she appreciates the joys of hiking and camping, outdoor living, generally soaking in the beauty of all things and living life to its fullest capacity. She can find sunshine in a rainfall or a snow storm. My kind o’ gal.
From her blog, I have discovered how to make homemade
crack granola (YUM!), entertained fantasies of being out west, and have even discovered that another’s description of “camping” just might make me change my own “comfy” tent camping ways. Most recently, she shared her happiness in the form of another award nomination — the Sunshine Award.
I couldn’t wait to add it to my trophy cabinet. “Gold stars!” she said; I must agree.
But that’s not the best part of it. In that nominating blog post, I discovered that she is also a bug lover. Yep. A bug lover. Squee!
Wha…? I’m sorry? Not that kind of bug? hangs head
Being a bug lover in her sense is also pretty darn cool, considering what you will learn about me as you read on.
Check this out, from her post:
Now, check THIS out.
See any similarities? Yeah. Me too. Could have been the same car! Perhaps Amber and I are twins separated at birth, only she was the cleaner, girly-er one.
Gawd, I loved that
piece of shit bug.
Because there are facets to me that are best left to myself and those closest to me, I won’t be leaving you with a set of random facts about myself for you to ponder. That alone should make you happy.
So here’s the award:
And now, let’s get to introductions. I bring to you my favorite little powder blue Volkswagon 1972 Super Beetle. Bliss. Enjoy.
My first car. Bought for only $500 fresh out of high school, robbing the college fund left to me by my deceased grandfather, I didn’t even learned how to use a clutch yet. (That first 4-way stop was a doozie.) What was left of that fund went into buying the bassoon I ultimately played in college on a full music scholarship. RIP, Grandaddy. I wasn’t a complete idiot loser.
Family time. Lots of time with my brother — who was also my house roomie at the time — together with the book “How to Hotrod an Air-cooled VW” and a JC Whitney catalog, and one crappy “new” bug was born out of my garage over the course of a summer. He and I, together with many cases of beer and a couple of cheater bars, got it running in no time. The VW air-cooled engine is a perfect starter for Mechanics 101.
Build, fail, repeat. I dropped the engine or the transmission no less than 3 times in as many years. By the third time, I had it down and could do entirely on my own with one floor jack. (Turned out there was a thread flaw in the case bolt that caused it to leak oil like crazy; I was constantly fixing that alone.) Did I mention that it was a
piece of shit great learning experience?
The hotrod. The stock 88mm cylinders were machine-bored to a whompin’ 96mm. When it was all together and purring like a kitten (it really did do that!), I would scratch the tires in 1st and 2nd gears whenever I could, which I did often, ’cause I’m more like a dude than a chick in so many ways.
Something from nothing. All of the parts required to rebuild it were either mail-ordered or pulled them from various junk yards around town. I carried a tool kit in the boot (which was in the front near the gas tank) for the entire time I owned and drove it, because it broke down regularly. I once had to re-purpose a metal hanger as an extra auto part to limp me along until
I had enough money saved a more long-term fix could be applied.
Brutal Texas summers…made more brutal. The heat registers in the floorboard were permanently
rusted frozen in the open position. What most people called air conditioning I called strategically placing a few pieces of duct tape over those register vents so more heat wasn’t coming in than normal. Then I would just open the windows and try to never to stop moving, lest the air get stagnant. The tape was removed in the winter for perfect interior temps through the two months we actually needed heat. Voilá.
Bernoulli’s principle could easily be modeled by the contoured bug. Just drive on any straight-away at speeds just over 55 mph and it would start to fly. Really scary, not having all wheels to the pavement.
Did I mention that it broke down a lot? One of the more scary ones was when the silly ignition switch suddenly failed on a rural highway and stranded alone in the middle of nowhere — hours from home. (These were the days of no cell phones, mind you.) I walked two miles to the nearest house, really just a dilapidated shack, to use phone to call for help. The female of the house even fed me lunch and chatted me up until my brother arrived to tow me back. (Thankfully, the serial killer rapist husband was at work that day.) The replacement part to get The Beast running again only cost $5, but the towing ran me over $200.
The Love Boat. It floods in Houston pretty regularly when it rains, and I drove in those floods with my bug! The door seals were always reliable, never leaked, and the air in-take was up high. I would simply get a good running start before literally floating across a flooded intersection to arrive safely on the high-and-dry side — past all the broken down, swamped cars — revving slightly so that the tail pipe didn’t wind up swallowing any water. Swear.
Sunshine came out of its tailpipe. The perpetual smell of gasoline fumes mixed with vinyl interior was quite
noxious intoxicating unforgettable, signature of the old style VW Bug. I always secretly wondered when the fumes would spontaneously ignite and explode into equal parts carbon monoxide and the full color spectrum. It would have been nothing less than spectacular. And what a way beautiful way to go.
Finally, here are the blogs and their people that fill my days with Sunshine. Thank you for what you do on WordPress.
VW Bugs totally rock! And so do you all.