When my cousin Tim enjoyed his own roaring 20s, living the DINK* life, he bought a brand new black Camaro. A sensible purchase? Probably not. But at what other time, other than late into retirement, can one enjoy such treats? Somehow Tim knew to grasp onto the momentary lack of full responsibility.

The Camaro. That is not Tim in the background with the surfboard, no matter what he might say. Photo courtesy CC - Wikipedia

The Camaro. That is not Tim in the background with the surfboard, no matter what he might say. Photo courtesy CC – Wikipedia

My 16-year-old self took full advantage of his situation. He made the drive home one Saturday in May to drop off the newly washed and waxed set of wheels. He parked in the barn and showed me how to work the 6-disc changer (which resided in the trunk. Hellloooo again, 1990s!) which I later forgot and listened to Collective Soul on repeat. Then he gave me the mandatory and expected Lecture. The car goes fast, he told me. Be careful. Then he said something unexpected: At the end of the day, it’s just a hunk of metal.

You are more important than a car.

Of course, this goes without saying within the context of being careful and avoiding accidents. Yet hidden underneath, and now that I’m a tad older and wiser myself, I see the beauty in wanting good things for the people we care about.

I can’t imagine the trust he put into my 16-year-old self, let alone my 17-year-old date, whom he never met. His actions told me that believed in the goodness of people and the worthiness of his little cousin, enough to hand over the keys.

This weekend a friend found herself in unfortunate circumstances without a car. We were laying low so we drove JJ’s vehicle down so she could get to an engagement. Even when you fully trust someone, in the back of your mind you always do the “what would happen if” dance, and we were no different. Yet like my cousin, I believed a person to be more valuable. His words echoed in my ears: At the end of the day, it’s just a hunk of metal.

I’m not sure I would’ve had the guts to follow through had the same trust been placed in me. It would be easy to come up with a reason why we couldn’t extend the offer. Family or not, I want to live like I believe that people are always most important. But it’s hard to live your values.

One of the only things that speaks louder than fear is love, and I was fortunate to be loved with a set of keys early in life, which made it possible for me to love in the same way.

 

*Dual Income, No Kids

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