I 86ed by '86 Mustang

February 6th, 2003 was a big day in my life.  On that day I started my first day of work at the church I currently serve in.  (I just celebrated five years of serving at that church, LIFE.)  I secured an internship under worship leader Tommy Walker that same day.  It was also the day I wrecked my car.

I totaled my car by swerving into another car on a freeway onramp in Pasadena California.  That accident jeopardized my plans of driving to the new church and preparing for my first meeting/rehearsal with a new band.  Thankfully my brother rescued me and drove me to our family’s car lot (my dad’s office).  I arrived at the rehearsal a little that night...not a great way to start a new job.

I got a new car that day; at least it was new to me.  My dad gave me a car he recently purchased: a 1986 Ford Mustang our family named “Silver”.  Silver and I spent five years together.  We have been through a lot together.  Now we are through.

Maintaining an older car is an ongoing process.  Things fall apart.  The lure of a newer car called out to me with increasing strength.  So now I pilot a 1990 Acura Legend; it’s four years newer.  The automatic transmission makes eating behind wheel a breeze.

I miss some things about the stang.  The car looked pretty cool and accelerated quickly.  On the downside it leaked a lot of oil on my friends streets.  (I learned not to park it on driveways.)

I still dream of driving a newer car like a Subaru WRX, a Scion XB or a smartcar but I am learning to be content.  After all, it’s just a car and there are more important things in life than cars.

Wild Connections

Few books affect me as deeply as Jon Krakauer’s Into The Wild.  This book reminds me how beautiful life can be.  In his nonfiction account the writer investigates the story of a young man from a well-to-do family that hitchhiked to Alaska and unintentionally died alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley.  His name was Christopher McCandless.  He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself.

During one recent Saturday night my family asked me to look after my 96 year old grandmother.  At the same time I was engrossed in this book and did not want to stop reading to entertain Grandma.  So I decided to bring my grandma up to speed on the grim story and then read aloud my next chapter to her.  I didn’t realize how powerful that chapter would be for the two of us.

It was the perfect chapter to read with her because it focused on a deep relationship that McCandless had with an 80 year widower named Ron Franz.  Franz lived alone in an apartment in Salton City, CA when he picked up a hitchhiking McCandless.  Franz took a liking to McCandless and wanted to help him straighten up his life.

Emotion flooded within me as I read of the strengthening relationship between the two men.  In the book the two men conversed about living adventurous and meaningful lives.  Franz wanted to convince Chris McCandless that wandering aimlessly in life is wasteful.  And McCandless wanted convince Franz that secure, habitual and conservative living damages the adventurous spirit within men.  It was a great debate to read aloud with my grandmother.

The most profound moment that evening came when the author writes of Franz’s special request to McCandless.  Ronald Franz explained that he had no children or siblings to carry the family name after his death.  He asked Chris McCandless if he could adopt him, if he would be his grandson.  Afraid of that level of intimacy McCandless shrugs off the proposal by changing the subject.

Franz’s proposal reminds me of how special a relationship can be between a grandparent and grandchild.  Franz desperately wanted to have a relationship similar to what my grandmother and I had.  Too often many of us forget the value of simple things like family.

The memory of reading this chapter to my grandmother with tears in my eyes reminds me how beautiful life can be.