New car smell

About this same time last year, I carpooled with several people, and to an event in which we were all volunteering. The driver of the carpool had just bought a brand new Porsche Cayenne GTS. A friend of mine has the same car, although his is an earlier model. The driver chose not to take the freeway, and we drove through Beverly Hills, toward West Los Angeles. We were all animated as we talked about the “new car” smell, how it drove, and all the accessories the vehicle offered. The driver was excited about the vehicle’s GPS. We spent the entire drive going on and on about the “new car,” and along the way, pointing to the same car and color as we passed one by, or parked along the streets we traveled through.

The front seat passenger said, “You never really realize how many people drive a particular car until you buy one.” We all laughed, agreeing with her comment.

About a week or so ago, and roughly a year later, I needed a ride to an event. I sent out an e-mail to those that lived in close proximity to where I was staying. The following day I received a text from the driver of the brand new Porsche Cayenne, and she said, “I’d love to give you a ride.”

After picking me up, we went to West Hollywood where she needed to make several stops: Just Food for Dogs; we then crossed the street to Whole Foods to grab snacks for the meeting, and she needed to fill her tank. Finally, we were on our way to our destination. I hadn’t been in her car since the first time, when she volunteered to carpool several of us a year or so ago. I said, “Have you gotten used to your new car?”

“Oh,” she said. “I’m going to trade it in.”
“Why?” I was curious to know.
“The gas! I work in Santa Monica and live in Pasadena! And I don’t really like it anymore. I mean, I like it, but I’m over it. My husband drives it more than me.”
I didn’t say that the “new car” smell still lingered in the interior. Instead, I said, “That’s how I feel about men!”
Her laughter suggested she knew exactly what I meant.
“When I learn who they are,” I continued. “They aren’t as appealing to me. They don’t amaze me.”
“If you’re hoping to stay amazed, you’ll always be alone,” she counseled.

I shared this story with someone over coffee yesterday. Once deep into the topic, we each admitted that we are excited at the beginning of something–when it’s new, fresh. We lean into it; we think about it–a lot. It has a hold over us. It is dangerously close to being addictive. Then something happens. Slowly, and without our knowing it, it loses its charm. It gets old. We cease to retain interest. Something about it bores us. This thing, it’s separate of personal growth. When we grow on a personal level, there’s a psychological trigger that tempts us to live deeper, not find something material or abstract to make us feel good about ourselves.

Subliminally, we start looking in a new direction out of boredom. We become open to what perceives to be a better idea; at least an idea that isn’t an old idea that now seems so mundane. Whatever that thing is we deeply wanted–and we attained it–eventually becomes another possession, another something else that, in time, no longer sparks our attention.

What is it about our nature that makes us need adrenaline to feel alive? It seems we have to have something constantly sustaining our attention–in fact, we must be held hostage in order to stay focused on any one thing. Let something new intrigue us and our neck pops in that direction. We aren’t necessarily drawn to a “new car” smell. Fundamentally, we crave fascination. In the age of nothing-lasting-longer-than-the-latest-style, our superficial–not true-nature has become compulsive.


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