August 03, 2010
Go Ahead, Empower Me “Engine” She Says (Begs?)Speaking of cars, which I wrote several posts about last week following my trip to Detroit, I’d be negligent if I didn’t share an interesting ‘car experience’ I had about four years ago, not long after I had moved to the west coast.
A friend of mine organized a "power girl’s weekend" in Portland Oregon, where women came in from all over the country for three days of gab, personal development, shopping, classes and reflection.
We did it all, from taking in speakers on feng shui, meditation, leadership and speaking to experts on breathing, eating, general wellness, fashion and you got it, cars.
Roughly 20 or so of us took over Nordstrom on a Sunday morning before the store opened to the public. We shopped, got fashion tips including ‘what not to wear’, took in afternoon haircuts and facials and created master plans on clearing clutter out of our lives and that included not just physical ‘stuff’ in our homes but things that no longer served us, which may have included people.
Towards the end of the weekend, they brought in a ‘car expert’ who was one of the few male speakers for the entire weekend, so having his energy there after being loaded with feminine energy for more than 48 hours was out-of-place. That said, what woman doesn’t want a really great car to drive? At the time, this one.
I found myself raising my hand arguing that I would never spend a lot of money on a car when I could spend money on more useful things like education, travel, fashion, food and wine. This set up an entire discussion about empowerment and whether a car or perhaps a car’s engine could empower a woman.
Remember that I grew up in a post World War II household by my grandparents, which means I 'took on' the values of a lost generation many of my colleagues missed.
Values at that time were based on being frugal, practical and making compromises, ones most Americans couldn't fathom today.
They were also based on ‘creating’ a better life for your children and their children and paving the way for their future success. In order to do that, many made sacrifices and spending a lot of money on a luxury car didn’t fall into the sacrifice bucket.
After all, any disposable income was set aside for a better school or piano lessons, so cars was a frivolous purchase and it was clear I wasn’t going to buy a new one when I turned 16, nor 18, nor 21 nor as long as I could hold out really. Why buy a new one ever was the way my grandfather thought, but then again, his tinkering made the vehicles in his lot purr well beyond 100,000 miles and that was seen as practical living.
I’m not suggesting everyone who grew up in the sixties and seventies shared those values but in working class New England, it was fairly common. Buying American was also pretty common and my family and all their friends typically bought Chevys and Fords, with Dodge being a third option to be considered and that wasn’t really until the eighties. Bring on the test drive, the car expert on that Portland weekend challenge me.
Bring on the test drive! Why not take on the challenge and keep an open mind, I told myself. I drove a Nissan and then an Audi – family sedan styles and their sports models at the time. We explored back roads and I put them to the test. I played with the fancy features on the dashboard none of my second-hand cars ever had. I sunk into the leather seats. I looked at color charts. Then, we moved into trucks.
Was Empowerment Achieved? In a way it was, but it wasn’t automatic and it didn’t happen without a fight.
And then what I discovered was that it was a fight of masculine and feminine energy. If you’re a strong female personality who spends a lot of time in a male world where your masculine energy needs to be on more often than not, you find yourself (or at least I often do) rejecting or pushing against masculine energy -- or whatever is symbolic of it at times. I quickly realized the car was one of those I had been fighting for years.
It was almost as if you didn’t want the car to make you feel vulnerable because if it did, you wouldn't be in charge anymore, or .......in control of your destiny. Driving an old clunker meant I could be in charge of "it" rather than the other way around.
Even though feminine energy loves control, 'it' also likes to be taken care of and swept of her feet at times. It doesn’t mean feminine energy can’t be in control and it often is, but if you truly want to go into your feminine, it’s about surrendering SOME THINGS and not others. It’s about visiting a different side of the coin and looking at the world in a different way.
When I realized that through ‘play’ and taking on a vehicle that had massive horse power, impressive and exquisite design and mind boggling features, you had to surrender just a little in the same way you do when you face four remote controls that dictates whether you watch a movie on your VCR or not. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, and sometimes – I kid you not – I call someone to walk me through the stupid complex process of getting different bits to work on my over-engineered stereo set up. This happens with other 'masculine toys' as well. (or should I call them 'enablers?')
Today, I still drive something modest but if I happened to win a state-of-the-art convertible in a color of my choosing and money were not an option, I’d probably go to town and get something that engulfed me more than the other way around. Cars can be empowering – and that ranges from how fast you feel the engine as you move into the fast lane when there’s a massive truck on your tail, to the design details of the console (make it more functional engineers – PLEASE), to the color choices you’re given.
I had to reject a Toyota once because the color I really wanted (and I mean really wanted), only gave me the choice of a tan leather interior if I opted for leather. Tan? What were they thinking? They lost a sale because they thought in “tans”.
I ‘get’ cars more than I ever did in the past and like most of America, listening to Car Talk brings a smile and I can’t turn it off whenever I hear it in the background. We all resonate with the stories and resonating is connecting and connecting is real.
I still love the cars of my childhood and my father’s childhood despite the fact that they’re far from “green” and are expensive to run. For my next purchase, I think my priorities would be close to what they were twenty years ago yet engine horse power, safety, environmentally friendly and killer-design would be integrated into the mix. I’m not in the market today, and I’m hoping by the time I am, the process of finding one won't be as hard and stressful as it was last time around.
Perhaps the entire car will be voice activated and wifi-enabled so I barely have to think about anything except for experiencing the journey, whether it be taking in the Montana vastness and solitude, marveling at the Colorado Rockies or stopping at Maine’s Route 1 lobster shacks.
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