A lesson from Countess Zofia, lying in state.

My car, a grand old navy blue Volvo, is currently lying ‘in state’. The head gasket has gone and my compassionate mechanic (otherwise known as Jason at Brendon Motors) told me that it would cost the best part of $2500 to get her going again. The answer was no. However I’m irrationally fond of the old girl and in spite of the fact that she ‘died’ a month ago, she is still in the garage. Calling the wreckers to have her taken away, somehow feels like calling the knackers yard to have an old horse carted off.

In the days since she ground to a halt, I’ve learned quite a lesson from Countess Zofia ZF 1860 (named by my lovely friend Stephanie who is of Polish descent). She has taught me about the benefits of not having a car.

While Zofia has sat quietly in the garage, I haven’t looked for a replacement. Partly due to lack of time – well, of course I’ve had the time, it’s simply that I’d rather spend a spare two hours connecting with friends – but mostly because I’ve been enjoying walking. And not having to pay for petrol. Or accrue parking fines.

Not having a car has also required me to schedule less into my day. Because I divide my time between a number of enterprises, I’ve tended to schedule as many things into my day as possible, racing from one appointment to the next.

Being car-less has meant more space. Fewer meetings sitting down. More movement.

Not having a car has coincided with a whole-hearted realisation, born out of a recently embedded daily yoga practice and learning about stress and our physiological response, that as humans we are designed to move.

The combination of not having a car and consequently walking for an hour a day, becoming more attuned to how my body responds to movement and food and yoga has meant that I’m leaner and fitter. I have more energy. I’ve dropped a dress size without trying.

I do realise that it’s easy to say this when the weather is unseasonably beautiful. Perhaps it won’t be so easy to extoll the virtues of being car-less when a whopping southerly strikes. Although I have, it has to be said, made myself get out and walk in the rain. I quite like walking in the rain. Perhaps I’ll get a corgi. And call her Zofia.

Enough of that.

I’m still not quite ready to stand on the pavement and wave at Zofia as she is spirited away.

Perhaps I’ll wait until I know I’ve formed a new habit of walking whenever and wherever I can.¬†According to a paper published in 2009 in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes on average 66 days for a new habit to form.¬†Zofia died just over a month ago, on the day of the Royal Wedding (speaking of corgis and walking in the rain). Which means another 35 days of being without a car.

I’ll let you know how it goes. The walking and the waving goodbye.