The other night my wife and I decided to go see a movie, and I found myself with some time to kill before we needed to leave. I’ve come to really appreciate these rare moments of truly free time, so I wanted to make the most of it and headed out to the garage to see if there were any micro-projects I could get done on my ’67 Camaro. When I stepped out in the garage and looked at my Camaro, I thought about just how far it’s come from the total basket case it was when I bought 10 years ago, and for a moment I felt pretty stinkin’ proud of it. But somewhere from the back of my mind I heard a little voice remind me of how far it still has to go to match my idea of “perfect.”
It’s the Little Things that Kill…
The negative thoughts started to slowly creep in, starting small at first. I simply thought about how I’d like to reroute all the wiring behind the dash and give it a cleaner look, which quickly led me to think about how I’ve still got some electrical gremlins to chase down.
That was all it took: in a matter of minutes I was circling my car, picking it apart mentally as I thought about the hundreds of small things that I’d still like to change. For a moment, I became the guy that everyone hates at a cruise-in; the one who points out every flaw and reminds you in detail of why you car isn’t nearly as cool as you like to think it is. “Well, the paint’s got a few orange peel spots, and you know that Torq-Thrust wheels are completely played out. Those deck stripes are just a little to close together, and the front suspension is too low. And damn, man…have you ever even bothered to clean out that trunk?” I got so busy being critical of the car I managed to completely lose sight of what I even came into the garage to do in the first place: work on my car and simply enjoy it. I ended up so discouraged and defeated that I just gave up and used the rest of my time to dust off the car.
I got so busy being critical of the car I managed to completely lose sight of what I even came into the garage to do in the first place: work on my car and simply enjoy it.
While I was wiping down the car I realized that I was making myself a slave to perfection. I had allowed it to steal my enjoyment of my car, and I was actually letting it push me further away from my ultimate goals. Don’t get me wrong here; I do think it’s very important to have a vision of what you hope your project car can be someday, and dreaming is part of the fun of owning a project car. What I have a problem with is letting my vision of perfection keep me from enjoying my car for what it is – right here, right now. I still have faith that my Camaro will one day be the vision of perfection I imagine, but it isn’t going to happen all at once. I know it will happen one small step at a time, and one hour in the garage at a time.
That night I reminded myself that I’m fortunate enough to have a project car that’s at a point where it’s plenty reliable and safe to drive whenever I want, so there is no reason not to take every opportunity I can to drive it and enjoy it, rather than nit-picking it for what it’s not. I decided that since I had at least gotten the car cleaned up, we might as well take the Camaro to the movies and enjoy it.
Enjoy Your Project Car for What It Is
I bet that when many of you look at your project car and start thinking of all the things that it still needs, you start to get that same overwhelmed feeling. It happens to all of us; we crawl under the car to finally get started on one project, and notice five other projects that we still need to get around to doing. It can be maddening, disheartening, and downright frustrating to say the least, and can even drive some enthusiasts to abandon their projects all together. But don’t get discouraged. Get the car driveable, make it safe, and enjoy the crap out of it while you work on it and mold it into your idea of perfect. Isn’t that what it’s really all about?