500. That’s apparently the average number of advertisements a typical American will hear or see in a given day. Take a second to think about that in the context of companies telling you how every aspect of your life sucks without their products or services — and that’s what they’re doing! If you keep hearing this over and over, eventually you’ll start to believe your life truly does suck compared to your peers. It’s no wonder people are always clambering over themselves and spending sickening amounts of money to switch from things like the current version of the iPhone to the newest so they can get their email 1/1,000,000,000,000 of a second faster — or surf the internet more efficiently while they’re driving — or upgrade their current vehicle to get an additional eight horsepower because the current 500hp will only get them from 0-60 in 2.4 seconds instead of the much more desirable 2.3.
I drive a 2003 Toyota Tacoma Extended Cab pickup with 130,000 miles on it. I bought it used, uh, I mean “previously loved” in modern advertising vernacular, with 43,000 miles on it several years ago. It’s not fancy at all but it gets me where I need to be and up to now has been an incredibly dependable vehicle. I’ve put some of my own touches on it like building a system in the bed to make car camping more comfy. I could’ve bought one of those pre-built systems that is super fancy for over $1,000, but instead, a wood working buddy of mine and I spent an afternoon building a REALLY custom one for $104 in materials, $4.80 in Santiago’s green chile burritos and a $8.50 six pack of IPAs. I’ve also lifted the suspension just a little to allow for more aggressive tires to help me more efficiently reach backcountry trailheads. I rock a 2nd generation iPod Mini (read:ancient) that’s played through my car stereo using the old school cassette insert thingy. Some people call it a hippie truck. I prefer to call it “charismatically efficient”.
A good friend of mine recently had to trade his extremely well used Toyota Tundra because he had truly driven it into the ground. To repair it (again) would’ve been about twice as much as the truck was worth. So he got a newer Toyota Tacoma, the sweet looking four door model. It’s a nice truck overall but the thought of having four doors admittedly had me thinking how nice it’d be instead of just having the jump seats my truck has, which are only accessible via climbing over the front seats. Yaddah, yaddah, yaddah…I kinda got caught up in this and decided to look on the internet to explore trading mine in for a four door.
I spent a couple of days daydreaming about how awesome it would be to take four or five people in my truck on skiing, climbing or mountain biking outings without having to contort the jump seat passengers into elaborate origami figures. I thought about how nice it’d be to have a stereo with a USB port instead of having wires and cables dangling all over the place. I thought about how nice it would be to simply have something “newer”. I say newer because I’ve long since done away with the thought of buying a brand new car when good used ones with low miles can be purchased for thousands less. Anyhow, I got in that deep track and before I knew it was trying to justify spending the money.
I’m pretty good at not getting caught up in the materialistic torrent that is our society. When I do from time to time, like with this new truck thinking, I usually can swim to the edge quickly and get out without getting swept away too far downstream. Fortunately I did it this time too.
I actually like my old school things. They may not be flashy and have the latest sleek designs, but they do what I need them to do and we’ve built a history together. Getting a new truck will not help me enjoy skiing, mountain biking or climbing any more than I already do — and those are the things I love and only use my truck to go and do them. Having a phone with internet and 5g (whatever that is), instead of my horrifyingly old, non-internet flip phone, will not make my words travel faster on the rare occasion I actually call someone or someone calls me. Opting for Gchat instead of just regular Gmail to be “instant” doesn’t make my words more meaningful by getting them to the recipient 10,000 nano seconds faster. I have what I need and I’m happy I’m the kind of person who can be satisfied with knowing that’s enough.
This whole “new truck purchase vs. non-purchase” exercise was a nice little reminder to detach from those every day pressures, live in the moment, and be happy with what I have and not constantly look for the next best thing. I’m likely way off the norm with this crazy hippie thinking here, but so be it. In the end I decided to just be happy with what I had and go do things I love to do.
Yesterday I woke up without a shred of disappointment for not succumbing to The Man and his material pressures. It felt as good as it always does to detach and think for myself. To celebrate this re-affirmation, I loaded my mountain bike onto my awesomely old school Tacoma and went to one of my favourite local trailheads. I also intentionally left my crappy phone at home to further my disconnection. To some I know leaving a phone unattended for more than 30 seconds is downright scandalous! On the way over I listened to Morning Edition on NPR in non-digital format on my old school radio, drank non-designer drip coffee from my beat up and bestickered travel cup, listened happily to the rattles emanating from mysterious places underneath my truck, watched the sunrise through my pitted and chipped up windscreen and smiled with sincerity from the second I back out of my garage. Okay, maybe I am a hippie, but these things are comforting to me and make me happy. They are me.
So, with a very full and happy heart, I set off by myself right around daybreak to ride across the high mesa where the trailhead started, then over into the foothills where I’d climb up onto a ridge to get amazing views back out to the plains. I’ve lived in Colorado for a long, long time and covered thousands and thousands of trail miles around this state and seen some incredibly stunning scenery, but yesterday was one of those incredibly rare times when the spring flowers were more beautiful, the sky was clearer and the mountains more majestic than I ever remember them being.
I have to think some of that was just Mother Nature showing off like she does here pretty regularly. But I also have to think that my little exercise in realizing that I truly do have everything I need cleared my view to see life in its bare, unfiltered glory. I was living in that exact moment and I once again had the correct eyes to see the organic beauty of this world — the beauty that’s always here for those willing to slow down long enough without looking too far ahead to see it.
The things I already have give me all the things I want and need. Why would I ever require more?
Feelin’ groovy today.
Climb high, ski hard, pedal far, paddle long, get off the phone, love what you have, live big.