Sunday, January 31, 2010

In Praise Of Passion

When asked his age, my neighbor Bruce smiles and replies with more than a hint of joy, "I'm eighty-six years old going on eighty-seven."  Consider the optimism in his response.  He fully intends to go on to the next year for many years to come.
For over fifty years Bruce has owned a 1954 XKSE Jaguar roadster.  That classic automobile is his pride and his joy and, yes, his passion.  He continues to do most of the routine service and repair work himself.  He knows every piece of rubber and steel and aluminum that has throughout the years touched his car and he knows the story of each one.
He took me for a ride in his car yesterday.  It wasn't a long ride but it was his Saturday morning routine.  He said I should be ready by quarter to seven in the morning and that I should dress warmly.  We drove to a nearby gathering place of men and women who love classic cars, who restore them, and who drive them with pride.  I met a man who -- in his early seventies -- still owns and drives the car he bought when he was fourteen years old.  I met another man who flew a P51 during World War II and now drives a gull wing Mercedes to these early morning gatherings.
Holding my cup of steaming coffee and standing next to  Model T I listened to horror stories of wonderful engines having been replaced with Chevrolet engines and of paint jobs withstanding dust storms and of journeys half way around the world to buy a louvered hood.
After about an hour, Bruce figured it was time to head home.
"We'll just poke along in the slow lane and watch all the cars pass us by.  The drivers will probably be thinking that this old man doesn't know how to drive.  When the engine's ready, though, we'll leave them all behind.  They'll just think we disappeared."  And so we did.
The '2' Freeway in the almost light of a Saturday morning will never be quite the same for me.
As I got reluctantly got out in front of my house Bruce said, "You know, every time I drive this car I come home feeling thirty years younger."
Bruce and his passion have been leaving people behind for half a century.  After all, that's the purpose of a passion.  They keep us feeling alive and ready to embrace life's possibilities.  They can also teach us to patiently wait for just the right moment to claim our own place on the road.

1 comment:

Marnie said...

Great story - thanks for sharing