I’ve owned my Miata Club Edition for two years now, and I’m still absolutely in love with it. That said, I have often thought back to why I didn’t get one of the faster, maybe more impressive cars I was considering at the time (Corvette, M3, Cayman, etc). I remember it was a feeling, a sense of calm rather than excitement or lust. It resonated so clearly with the personal journey I had been on that it seemed just right.
Moderation. Not abstinence, nor indulgence. That was one of the main philosophies of the Buddha, at least as I’ve come to understand. Many may find it odd that I apply Buddhist philosophy to my own pursuit of material pleasures, but for a car enthusiast it is a way of life. I’m not over here trying to be a monk, giving up all material things. I’m a real man with my share of hypocritical beliefs and practices, and I actually quite enjoy being afflicted with desire. Sure, it brings with it pain and anxiety, but it also makes life interesting. Like sitting on the tip of a pin, you feel very alive despite the side effects.
The key is to also be mindful, so you don’t take things too far and find yourself consumed to the very core with material interests. You have to keep these things in context with the experience you’re looking to have in life. I never want to be one of those people who can’t be happy no matter how far they go or how high they climb. What’s the point of all that if you’re going to die miserable anyway? Learning to embrace “what is” is just as important as focusing on “what could be.” Both are important to me, so I try and share my focus between each.
This is where Meditation and the Miata come in. A while ago, I found my inner peace after a long struggle to sort out how I wanted to live my life from an ideological and philosophical perspective. Life throws all sorts of shit at us, some of it good shit, and some of it bad shit, but knowing where your “zero” is will absolutely change your life. Meditation is a wonderful tool that can allow you to return to your zero, your peace, whenever you want to.
Meditation is all about coming into the present moment and really just “being there” with no larger agenda. Driving, for me, maybe my favorite way to meditate.
I like to call it “Going nowhere, fast” because the best drives have no destination, no agenda to follow. On the best drives, you’re just out there to be out there. And there is nothing that will put you squarely in the present moment like blasting through the woods at 80-100 mph.
For many traditional meditators, that probably sounds absolutely insane, and it is. I’m not advocating that everyone go do it, but for me, it really does have a deep meditative effect. You feel so distinctly alive!
I remember back to my freshman year in college, well before my foray into Buddhist philosophy, and the very beginning of where I felt the need to try and find myself. I was in a stressful spot, nearly flunking out of school and coming to terms with the fact that the life course I had thought I was on was changing course. I went to a car meet with a few friends on one nice summer night just to take my mind off it all. On the way back we came across a massive straightaway on the freeway and there was nobody in the way. I threw my Subaru STi into a lower gear and pinned the throttle to the floor. The white dotted lines on the road became more and more solid, and around 140mph I told my buddy in the passenger seat to call out the numbers. My knuckles were white gripping the wheel. I knew one small mistake at this speed would end badly, and quickly.
We climbed to 158mph on that run before I let off. I remember I didn’t actually brake until we had coasted back down to 120mph or so. Adrenaline was pounding through my veins. It was a foolish endeavor, but my God did I feel alive! Having just been at the blurry edge of the abyss, all of my worldly problems seemed to have blown away in the wind. At first, the good feeling was mostly the endorphins, but my bliss lasted for a few days afterward. My mindset had changed, and I had gotten my first real taste of enlightenment at 158mph.
The stress all came back eventually, of course, and it would be a few more years before I would have my real nirvana moment where the change was permanent. But driving has always appealed to me. It relaxes my mind by forcing me to focus on the task at hand and appreciate my immediate surroundings.
So why the Miata? Because it’s the happiest of mediums. It’s not trying to be fast, but it’s great to drive. It’s not trying to impress, but it has an unmistakable look of a good time. The Miata is the Buddha of cars if there can be such a thing. It’s got a blissful wisdom about it that is totally unique. Everything about the Miata experience seems balanced, and to me that makes it feel like “zero.”
Sure, I love going way out to something crazy like “100” or even “1,000” and having that experience in life, but “zero” will always be home and it’s nice to have a car that takes you there from the moment you turn the key.