Choosing to Live the Dream

I have a friend who likes to ask me what I would have liked to have done with my life. The unspoken assumption is pretty obvious; there’s no way I could be happy the way things turned out.

But the fact is I am with the way my life turned out.

My friend likes to wonder if I would have enjoyed being a full-time writer. I don’t believe I would have. I can’t imagine enjoying the grinding existence of the working writers I know. Life is more than writing for me. In fact, it’s hard for me to understand how many writers manage to squeeze in enough living to justify the amount of time and energy they devote to writing. Writing, for me anyway, is my response to some aspect of the life I’m living. Put another way, you can have a full life without writing but I don’t believe you can write anything worthwhile without living a full life.

There are other fundamental limiters to my writing and those are the honest and undeniable limits of my talent and inspiration. My inspirations simmer, they seldom boil. Also, I have many other pulls in my life and some of them also involve a kind of creativity and a smattering of inspiration. I love to golf and to hike and to take photographs. More than anything I enjoy being around the people whom I like and love. Writing much more than I already do would vacuum up precious time that could be spent actually doing other things and enjoying other people.

Today I bought new tires for my beloved Mini Cooper instead of buying a new car. I would like to be able to buy a house but the housing market rises faster than I can earn more money. I’ve been working to develop a business association with a high-end manufacturer in Sweden for the last five years. Would it have been easier to do if I had more cash on hand? Most certainly. Still, as has been better said by a million other writers before me the only thing I would truly like more of is time. In the end, it seems to me that we have a choice; we can either embrace life’s limitations or thrash against them.

By¬†accepting those limitations, we allow ourselves to get started on some of the things we say matter to us. But, if we spend too much time thrashing about we’re likely to find our energy sapped before we even have a chance to bring our better selves to bear on projects that could be worthwhile.

Now that’s what I call wasted energy.

And so, I am truly living the dream. My health is good. My loved ones are many and nearby and the world is full of things that fascinate me. From time to times those fascinations inspire me to write. Living the dream is a choice I’m happy I made.

Choosing to Live the Dream

3rd Generation Mini Cooper review through the eyes of a 1st Generation 2006 Copper Owner/Lover

I put off driving a new Mini Cooper for years.

The fact is that I’ve driven a 2nd Generation Cooper S but the only Cooper I’ve driven is my own 2006 Cooper named Titan.

I’ve liked Titan since the day I took custody of him on January 7, 2007. He was a Late Build 2006; the best of the 1st Gen Minis. Initially, I found the gearbox lackluster and the engine, well, trending toward the average.

But now, after 7 years, I have grown to love this car.

Now, Titan sits in the garage with 143,000 miles on the clock. The gearbox, clutch & engine all work the very same way they did when I drove him off the lot at Bob Smith Mini back i 2007. There are no door dings, only a few rock chips on the hood to mar his rare beauty.

Still, time stand still for no car; not even the Titan.

Last Sunday I went to the new home of Bob Smith Mini to drive a new 2015 Mini Cooper. I knew there would be no manual transmission cars on the lot so I decided to drive an auto, just to get a feel for the new 3 cylinder engine and the driving dynamics of the new, bigger Mini.

Size matters.

The new Cooper is a larger and more buttoned down car, of these facts there is no doubt. The engine is cool and collected and the transmission is pretty slick. Handling is a huge question mark. My 2006 Cooper handles (to this day) with deft aplomb and near-surgical precision. The 2015 Cooper more glides over the road more than it carves it up. Turn in is controlled but it’s also more than a touch toward the languid. In the few turns that I took the chassis felt stout enough but the suspension was meant to please another kind of driver; dare I say, a driver used to driving lesser cars.

For whom is the 2015 Cooper intended? I think it’s intended for someone who likes their idea of a Mini. They like the idea of the Mini’s kind of cool. They like that the new Mini is said to be larger and more comfortable. When they actually get around to driving the 2015 they’ll be driving a car that will drive pretty much like what they’re used to. When the goal is to sell more cars, this makes sense.

But, it’s not really in keeping with the spirit that Mini has established. Writing about a car’s soul is tricky. BMW owned the MIni brand for a very long time before they came out with the Cooper. I’m sure they spent a lot of time looking at the original Mini and wondering about its translation into a contemporary car. The succeeded beyond anyone’s expectation and they did so by building a pure car; a car with soul.

My 2006 Cooper begs me to swing it hard into corners. The 2015 is a little numb on center and quick movements of the steering wheel bring a sense of lift before the car changes direction. The new Cooper needs to be convinced to turn while the older Cooper seemed almost to anticipate turns and curves.

The longer wheelbase of the 2015 is a good thing, though. The 2006 is solid and predictable until you really get it going and start to push it. It never feels light, but sudden changes of direction at speed reveal the stability limitations of a such a short wheeelbase.

I cannot promise that I will not buy a 2015 Mini Cooper. My plan is to find a manual transmission version to test drive. Many a car has had its personality changed with the simple presence of that third pedal. A touch more soul just might do it.

3rd Generation Mini Cooper review through the eyes of a 1st Generation 2006 Copper Owner/Lover