A search for the symbolic leads to the literal

A search for the symbolic leads to the literal

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I was getting out of my truck, and the door handle broke off in my hand. For a second, I thought I was going to have to get out on the passenger’s side, but then I just rolled down my window, reached out and pulled up the handle from the outside, and the door opened.

So, I thought, OK, it’s not that big a deal. I’ll just take it over to my mechanic at the gas station. But when I drove over to the station, it was closed for construction, because they were getting their pumps replaced. So I figured, no big deal. I can go a few days of reaching out the window to get my door open until my mechanic is back on duty.

Then, this morning, I pulled into the parking lot at work and I went to go roll down my window, and the window handle snapped in two, leaving me with the lever in my hand, while the round base of the handle that houses the turning mechanism was still attached to the door.

Now, I’m not one of those guys who thinks everything has to mean something, but I was pretty darn sure there was a message in this for me.

The first thing that occurred to me was that someone or something doesn’t want me to get out, and the question was, get out of what or of where. The literal answer was my truck, but it was the symbolic meaning I was after.

The temptation was to consider the truck in the same way I might if I were analyzing a dream, where frequently a truck, even a less-than-full-sized pickup like mine, represents hard work or a heavy load. According to that interpretation, I would appear to be locked in to my difficulty, and confined within my burden. From that perspective, it would seem to be saying that no matter how much I might try, and work, and desire to have things be a little easier - the work a little more effortless, the tasks a little more fulfilling and the schedule a little more flexible - there always seems to be something holding me back, another challenge getting in the way.

It would be easy, and likely correct, to say it’s me getting in the way - my attitudes, my decisions, my fears, my hangups, my lack of focus or my lack of organization - then leave it at that, and set about to improve in each of those areas. But I already know I get in my own way, just like I know everyone gets in their own way, with all the ways in which they or their timing are less than perfect. It doesn’t seem like I needed my truck to fall apart for me to know and understand that, so I considered it from another perspective.

It occurred to me that while trucks may traditionally represent a heavy load, my truck is not a workhorse, and I don’t use it for heavy hauling. I just use it for getting around town. I like it because it’s American - which could mean that I’m bound by patriotism, or even worse, nationalism. Nah. It sits up high, and I can see better - which could mean I’m hampered by issues having to do with superiority and privilege or advantage. It’s safe - which could mean I’m held back by a preoccupation with safety, afraid, maybe, to take a risk. It’s silver - which could mean I’m stuck in small-change consciousness.

I wasn’t obsessing over it, but I was definitely still thinking about it when I got home from work. It took me a few minutes to get the window down far enough so I could get out of the truck. My gal was watering the flowers, so I told her all about what happened, including my thoughts and interpretations. She listened, and said:

“The meaning seems pretty clear to me.”

“What’s that,” I asked.

“Means it’s time to get a new truck.”

And that, I suppose, shows the difference between her and me.

And that’s when it struck me. I literally can’t get out of my truck. Even though the car companies are offering zero-percent financing, and the government is urging us to spend money, I can’t pull myself to get out of my old truck and into a new one.

I have no problem spending money on dinners and vacations, and other experiences, but I can’t seem to spend money on a new car, when my old one still works, especially in these uncertain times.

Up to now, I’ve considered it an ecologically wise choice to keep re-using my old vehicle, while reducing the need for a new one, but now that I know that about myself, it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

Ron Colone can be reached at ron.colone@gmail.com.

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