After my yoga teacher’s recent car accident, her insurance company decided to total her vehicle. The front end was crushed. It probably could’ve been repaired (and, as a Honda, probably could’ve racked up many more kilometres). But it was an old car, deemed unworthy of the repair cost.

Her story intrigued me in three ways. First, she taught a class immediately after the accident. I was there, apprenticing, totally oblivious until after class, when she told me about the bad news. Talk about grace under pressure.

Second, despite the head-on impact, she was uninjured. She did have time to brace herself, and the force was symmetrical. Plus, her car had no air bag (which in this case might’ve caused more trauma). And perhaps her yogic composure played a part.

Third, it reminded me of my first car’s demise. It, too, was a Honda. My then-boyfriend was driving us home one night when he sped through a yellow light, onto a freeway on-ramp. We got broadsided at the tail end and spun around 180. Thankfully the motor trade insurance we held took care of our every need.

After my insurance company wrote off my car, I had to drive 50 miles to the salvage yard where it was parked: To retrieve my belongings. To sign papers. To say goodbye.

In the merciless light of day, it was a shock to see my car disfigured and abandoned. I’d owned it for a decade, and it symbolized college, my 20s, freedom, and California. It was not a prestige car, but it was mine. Driving home, I wept.

I asked my yoga teacher, “Do you get to see your car again? To say goodbye?”

We agreed that we all associate our vehicles, from cars to bikes, with ourselves. By transporting us from place to place, they become part of ourselves, and we feel real loss when we lose them.

“All goodbyes are sad,” she said. “But eventually we have to say goodbye… to the whole caboodle. So maybe the little goodbyes are just preparation.”

“I’ve never liked goodbyes,” I said.

Are we ever really ready to give up the whole caboodle?

Image: Pixar Cars image from College Cars Online


  1. It’s refreshing to read this – a nonjudgemental post about our attachment to objects. Of course we strive to detach ourselves from material things, but why not identify with something that we spend so much time in/on? I think it’s perfectly natural : )


  2. My wife and I just lost our beloved dog this week, and when we told one of neighbors, a dear friend, she said, “Sometimes I think life is a long practice in learning to say goodbye.”


  3. If you have insurance, you are eligible to receive up to the maximum insurable amount stated in your insurance policy. Unfortunately, insurance companies try to save money on your own when possible, so the collection of insurance after an accident has occurred can be stressful.
    I hope you have been monitoring the maintenance of your vehicle, if so, please send copies of insurance company records maintenance.
    If after providing such evidence, the insurance company does not cooperate, you may consider useful research papers written about property damage and insurance claims.


  4. I enjoyed this post and could not help but recommend the 1983 film, “Ballad of Narayama,” which I watched for the first time last night. A powerful and insightful film about the most fundamental of goodbyes. Highly recommended for anyone who is mortal.


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