On cars and possessions

I want a car. I want one badly. It’s a modern convenience that seems so… necessary. To move freely at whim, to break the bonds of place; there’s something very American about this impulse.

But I can’t justify buying one because I don’t need it. I don’t go many places these days as a grad student, and the bus system in Providence works, if only just barely. I’m within walking distance to my world (and it’s a world with precious few parking spots, too) and there are Zipcars for the world outside.

I’ll get one eventually, of course, in a few years when I leave this sheltered cove of books and seminars. That’s fine.

But that feeling of need. The dark side is that I had convinced myself I really did need it. I wanted the possession for the sake of possessing, little more. Have I become so attached to things that I’m weak in the face of being able to gloriously go without?

There’s a pride hidden in asceticism-especially given the trendiness of thrift these days-and it’s one in which I’d like to indulge, but by the light of history I live as a king. To be an American ascetic is to exist without a car, a TV. (I could become even more so without a computer or phone, but then I’m not a sadist. These are professional and personal necessities.)

This year I’ll turn 25, entering those halcyon days of vast prospects and lower insurance premiums. With each year, simplicity becomes the ever-dearer possession.