Growing up on the prairies, in cities that are meant to be driven, not walked, I have always assumed I needed a car. When you’re a young man in the cities and towns out here, there’s a right of passage into manhood, I suppose: you turn 16, you get a car. No questions asked.
For me, it was something I did quite without thinking. I have been leasing a car for 7 years now, kidding myself that this made sense economically. But then on November 1, suddenly my plates, my insurance and my car had all expired. For once in my life, I crunched the numbers and realized how much I pay just for the, well, for the habit of driving.
For the first time in my adult life, I asked myself, “Do I really need a car? And can I really afford it?”
My answers, which surprised me, were, “No,” and “No.”
Part of my way of thinking came as a result of reading Chris Hedges’ book, “Death of the Liberal Class.” I think it’s one of the most impotant books of our time, and should be required reading for all of us who care what’s happening in the world today. I have deep appreciation of the people in the “Occupy” movements all around the world, but I don’t see being an occupier myself. But believe me, I am part of the 99%, and spent a lot of ink and newsprint talking about that in the Calgary Herald, long before it was fashionable.
Suddenly, not to drive seemed a good way not to buy in. I’m not buying into General Motors anymore, or the oil companies from whom I bought my gas. I am doing a tiny little thing to help save the environment which according to Mr. Hedges is probably doomed anyway. It’s a tiny insignificant action, not to drive, but in an odd way it is done for political reasons.
Normally, I don’t have to be anywhere at any given time. Normally, I am not in a rush. I walk more now, which is good for me. I get to observe humanity up close and personal, which as a writer I can only think is a good thing.
I’m surprised that I really don’t miss my car or the act of solitary driving at all. In fact, I feel a strange and wonderful sense of freedom.
And the money I save, I can put into the odd great bottle of wine, and some funky walking shoes.
From what I can tell after 8 days, there is no down side.
Maybe you should try it . . . you might like it!