Relativity

RelativityAs I hinted at, I got rid of the last pickup – codename Artsy – and have since moved on to another vehicle. I won’t mention make or model – I’m not going to do free advertising for some company when I’ve only had the vehicle a few days.

But I like it. This is what the article is about – because I told someone I visited today that they are now less far away with this vehicle.

They didn’t move. I didn’t move. The distance hadn’t changed. What I was driving had.

Artsy’s job was to create trails in the bush with me at the wheel. This she did well – so well, in fact, that I saw her on the way home and for a moment wondered what my pickup was doing there… when it’s not mine anymore. She looks well. 

However, things have changed and so the requirements of the vehicle have changed as well. And this one doesn’t have to go in the bush. Trails, maybe, but no more bush. Mainly, roads. Parking in the cities. And, finally, it’s not a manual transmission.

It’s a dual clutch transmission, which for the sake of people who don’t know enough about cars, is more efficient than a manual and as convenient as an automatic.

The air conditioning is awesome. The back up camera makes parking so much easier. The audio is so good stock, and plays my MP3s and more. The seat is comfortable.

And so, now, what used to be a long distance for me is a shorter distance – just like that. This is probably not news to a lot of people, but I’ve always sacrificed things.  The RX7s had their AC’s take out for weight reduction, Artsy had noisy mud tires, and so on, and so on. These were things that were necessary for the tasks at hand.

With this vehicle, I did not sacrifice. I ordered the pizza with everything on it. It has features I may never use.

But today I saw the value in that spontaneous simple statement, it dawned on me.
It dawned on me that relativity and the hierarchy of needs are related in the human experience – something I knew – but at a new depth.

And, after all, even the Spartan minimalist has to acknowledge that the new chariot is a worthy tool for the next part of my life.

Strategy and Sacrifice

Story time.

My father was teaching me chess back when I was a kid. About 9. He and my mother always played, and I suppose they thought it was time for me to learn. I had my ass handed to me, but I always got back to the chess board – and I was always playing, even alone I would play myself. The habit of playing against myself would stay with me for about a decade, and taught me much about seeing different perspectives at the same time.

My father taught me not to lose pieces because they were valuable. I saw that his strategy worked for him and that it didn’t work for me and, one day on the back patio of a 1970s suburban home in Ohio, I sacrificed my Queen. He shook his head, frowned at me in the way only a disappointed father could, and in 3 moves I had him in checkmate. I celebrated, having finally beaten the champion of the house.

Mahin Rampersad at Sam Young House (18-3-1967)He would not play me again for 30 years. I would see later that in beating him I had created a divide. That’s him on the left in the picture.

I had sacrificed a part of the relationship with my father when I beat him that day – his identity was tied to winning at chess and his son, using a strategy that he didn’t want his son to use, had beaten him fairly. I would go on to play chess in the house with anyone and I would and typically win (we remember our successes and downplay our failures, I know that). The only person I really wanted to play with was the old man.

Sure. I was only 9 and I wasn’t the adult, and my father – like everyone else’s – was imperfect. I refuse to blame him, instead taking the lesson from it.

What I learned, though, was that to become good at something, or to achieve something you want, you have to sacrifice. I would later learn that what you want isn’t necessarily for you, that you can want something for someone else and make the same sacrifices.

Sometimes you protect the ones you care most about by sacrificing your own wants and needs. It might mean a white lie here and there. It might mean hiding your feelings for someone you care deeply about, knowing that showing them would make their situation worse.

We talk a lot about strategy and winning, but we don’t talk enough about deciding what we want to win, or deciding what is best for those around us. Taken too far, it can be selfish – robbing others of choices. Taken not far enough, it can also be selfish – adversely affecting things just so we get some short term gain.

In the end, we decide what we sacrifice – and sometimes we don’t and have unforeseen things crop up. That’s called life.

Sometimes we make tough decisions and hope for the best.