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Smiling Camry

My car became a teenager this year. It’s a 2000 Toyota Camry with 195,000 miles. Although it’s showing signs of wear, I’m sort of proud of it. Enough so that I recently passed up a chance to get a newer car in a family switcheroo that’s much too complicated to explain.

I can tell that a few people are starting to look sideways at me for driving such a well-used vehicle. That doesn’t bother me the way it once might have. At this point in life, I’m not terribly inclined to maintain a close relationship with anyone who judges me on the basis of the car I drive.

Even my Dad has made surreptitious remarks that show his concern for my safety. Still, I feel loyal to my little car, which has never failed me and operates at very little expense. Likewise, I’ve taken very good care of it, by waxing it, keeping the oil changed, rotating the tires and even getting a paint job to keep it spruced up.

It’s not about cars

Why am I telling you this? Well, it seems like allegory for so much of life, especially the way we regard our bodies. I was reminded of that by a quote that’s attributed to C.S. Lewis, although some people have challenged the attribution: “You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

What if we thought of our bodies as cars for our souls? We might maintain them the way I have my Camry. We wouldn’t glorify or criticize them because you can’t take credit or blame for a gift.

If you gave your teenager a used Escort, how would you feel if he/she constantly complained about it, pined for a nicer car, didn’t keep it polished and never changed the oil? You’d probably wonder how you raised such an ungrateful wretch.

This is what we do when we refuse to accept our own bodies at any size, shape or age; when we tell ourselves we can’t have new clothes until we’ve reached a certain weight; when we pursue habits that harm our running condition; or when we neglect habits that are proven to keep us strong both physically and spiritually. We’re saying to the Almighty, “Thanks, but this isn’t quite good enough for me.”

My car isn’t old enough to be charmingly vintage. It’s just old—a stage it must pass through if it’s ever going to be charmingly vintage. It has plenty of life left in it and I plan to keep it for at least a while longer. At some point, I’ll probably be tempted to follow the pattern of a throw-away society that discards things well before they are worn out. Meanwhile, I’m doing everything I can to maintain it—and my body—so they can transport me as far as I can go. My body isn’t what it used to be, but neither am I. That’s a good thing.

What about you? Are you caring for yourself the way you should? What’s your secret for staying healthy—and getting more mileage out of the material things in life?

Life is short. Wear the good stuff.