Perspective Learned From a Burning Van

One morning I was just about to arrive at the synagogue where I pray during the week, when I spotted an odd sight — a van which appeared to have caught on fire that had been entirely extinguished. A gentleman was inspecting it and I asked him what had happened. He said that there had been an electrical fire during the night, and that it was only fortunate that it had burned itself out and hadn’t reached the fuel line — or else the entire van would have blown up as you may sometimes see in movies and television shows. I said that it was rather unfortunate and went on my way.

After morning prayers had concluded and I had my coffee, I left the synagogue and found an entirely different man standing by the van. I asked him if he knew anything about it and he told me that it was his van, and that the damage was completely beyond repair — that the van was lost. I felt terrible immediately — vehicles are not particularly cheap, and to buy one and then lose it to a fire this way must have been devastating. I said as much to him.

“The way I see it, the van was just now turning seventeen years old,” he said, and then told me how much he had paid for it at the time of the purchase. He then said, “Do you know how much it costs to lease a van like this? About four hundred dollars. So for me, I got more than my money worth — it would have cost me a lot more than what I paid for it had I tried to lease it back then. I consider myself lucky to have had the van as long as I did — it served its purpose and now its time is up.”

I was floored. All I had been thinking about was how unfortunate he was to have lost his van, and there he was smiling and talking about how happy he was to have had the van for as long as he did. It reminded me of all of the cleaning that I had been doing and how many things I put in the bin that I had clung onto for so many years only because they had survived so long — and so their only purpose was to take up space in my life and remind me that they still existed.

I felt the strap of my messenger bag on my back and felt grateful that it was in nearly perfect condition — and resolved to try to think about the loss of things in a more positive way.

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3 thoughts on “Perspective Learned From a Burning Van

  1. Pingback: In Memory of a Childhood Hero — Robin Williams, 1951-2014 | blog of gordon davidescu

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