The first time we decided to go car-less, our ‘year without a car’ experiment lasted all of three months before we caved and bought Clementine (a decidedly cute VW Beetle, circa 1975, that had Sporty smitten from the get-go).
Our reason? Public transport made us feel less than’.
Back then we were using minibus taxis* to get around, as MyCiti had yet to make its debut in the Mother City, so maybe that had something to do with it?
*They’re often unroadworthy and the drivers are notorious risk takers.
I’m not sure though, because neither of us motivated to get bicycles either. In retrospect I think the truth is we were still hung up on the idea of owning a car.
Clementine also came with her own set of challenges and within six months Sporty had fallen completely out of love and buggered off to Perth to visit her family, leaving me to sell our little family’s one and only sore point.
Take Two at Becoming Those Urban Hippies
Our second attempt at becoming those urban hippies who didn’t own a car proved successful. For whatever reason, we were suddenly comfortable with the idea of not owning our own transport. Maybe it was because we’d moved closer to work or that we’d found an apartment inside a shopping centre (it doesn’t get more convenient than that) or that there was a bus stop right outside our building.
Perhaps we’d simply stopped judging ourselves according to what we owned.
Most likely it was a combination of all those things. Honestly though, we don’t really care. All I know is we’re happier now than we ever were when we had a car.
Where You Live is Key
Now obviously the fact that we live in the city plays a huge role. Relying solely on public transport when you live outside of the CBD is a schlep (to put it mildly). My colleagues are often late for work because their bus or train isn’t on time.
That’s why it’s key to live close to the things that are important to you. In our case gym, work and somewhere convenient to do our grocery shopping.
Immerse Yourself, Engage Your Senses
What’s great about living like this is that it allows us to immerse ourselves in the lost art of slow living. A pace our parents and grandparents considered normal, but nowadays is bordering on glacial.
In a car you’re separate from the world and your surroundings, but when you’re walking or riding a bike you’re a part of it. All your senses are engaged, you’re more aware and as a result, you feel more alive.
Also, because it takes longer to get places you have more time for you. You realize how true that old clique is, the journey is as important as the destination.
Living in the Moment
Sporty and I are constantly amazed by how much more relaxed we are now. Even when something bothersome happens, like on Saturday when I got a puncture on my way to go empty the compost bucket.
As I was pushing my foldy back to the cycle shop in town, I thought, I’m still happy that we don’t own a car. I didn’t mind the inconvenience of having to push my bike or being stuck with a full bucket of kitchen scraps I had no way of emptying.
That’s the art of slow living, that’s living in the moment and just enjoying it.