So here I am, staring down the barrel of another birthday. This time I am about to enter the last year of my fortieth decade, which doesn’t seem possible to me. I remember when my Dad was 49, and that seems like yesterday.
A couple of weeks ago we had the Turkey Rod Run in Daytona, an annual gathering of hot rods and classic cars from all over the country. The infield at Daytona International Speedway fills with vehicles of all ages, and almost all conditions. I was able to go to one of the days of the event and spend a few hours walking around, checking out the rides that made the journey to this year’s showcase. One thing jumped out at me as it does everytime I go to one of these shows: people are willing to ask–and pay–some crazy money for old vehicles.
Why is this? Why will people fork over huge sums for vehicles that, many times, just aren’t worth it? Much of it is nostalgia, the desire to recapture something from one’s past that is associated with a particular vehicle. People aren’t just this way about cars and trucks from their youth, however. If it’s not vehicles, it’s going to be something else. Many times we long for what has come before, idealize it, then pay whatever price is necessary to reconnect with those bygone days through the particular object that hearkens back to it. There’s just one problem: we can’t go back. And do we really want to? As Billy Joel sings in his song “Keeping the Faith,” “You know, the good old days weren’t always good, and tomorrow’s not as bad as it seems.”
There’s nothing wrong with nostalgia, to be certain, but we have to appreciate the journey from where we’ve been to where we are now. All the days behind us, good and bad, have brought us to this day. As we get older it’s easy to long for the times when it seemed things were simpler, easier. The days when we didn’t have as many aches and pains, doctor appointments, and physical maintenance issues. We bring some of that on ourselves, to be certain, but some of it is just the result of the passage of time.
At the Turkey Rod Run there were certainly some gorgeous vehicles, but most of those had been completely redone from the ground up. Original cars from decades ago are getting harder to find because most were used as intended: driven, enjoyed, and often abused. Indiana Jones put it this way: “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.” We get a lot of miles put on us, but that’s our intended use. Life is meant to be lived, and it’s lived forward–not in reverse.
Do I wish I was in my twenties again? I was certainly better off physically–younger, thinner, no gray hair. But I wouldn’t trade 49 year-old me for 29-year-old me for all the money in the world. I’m getting more miles on this frame every year, but that’s what I’m meant for. That’s what we’re all meant for. So enjoy the “good old days,” just don’t get lost back there. The best is yet to come.
(BTW, the picture I used for this article is for a decal that’s available on Amazon. I’ve got to have one. I don’t personally know the seller, but here’s the link in case you want one too: https://www.amazon.com/Makoroni-MILEAGE-Runner-Laptop-Sticker/dp/B07KYZV4PW.)