Much like the world, anything that has stood the test of time had a beginning – an introduction. Introductions serve the role of outlining what the existence of something aims to achieve. As a mechanical engineering student, I often find myself scratching my head because of the theories that I have to try and comprehend. As a result, the word WHY has become entrenched into my psyche and the desire to understand how things function currently defines who I am. Over the past two years, I have identified a linearity to engineering that has been converting me into a machine. The barrage of theories that I am confronted by seem to be eroding at the part of me where my compassion once survived.

There is something about my childhood that disturbs me. A large portion of my life has been defined by inconsistency. There were rarely any paternal figures who I emulated, except perhaps my much older and more charismatic brother. I rarely ever lived in the same house for more than three years, which made creating relationships far more difficult than solving the differential equations that I have become accustomed to. I have never been successful at planting my feet in the ground of any place that I have ever lived in. This has resulted in the creation of the situations where it is impossible for me to concisely explain the story of my origins because my existence cannot be traced back to a single location. As such, forging an understanding of who I am and developing an identity to assimilate myself into has become one of the greatest challenges of my life.

Throughout my upbringing, there has never been any indication of my being rooted in heritage or following any form of tradition to the letter. As a result, my capacity to empathize and sympathize with other human beings continues to be wanting. Living in a continent that is characterized by the profundity of its humanity, my social awkwardness has been questioned throughout my travels in South Africa. Perhaps my persistent lack of empathy and sympathy is what has contributed to the erosion of my humanity – reinforced by the linearity of engineering that has been challenging the existence of the compassion that has resided within my soul. However, a career choice cannot be used as an excuse to deny myself of the emotional aspect that every human being must possess in order to be considered human. It is for this reason that my emotional side needs to undergo major surgery.

It must be said that amidst the challenges that my childhood confronted me with, one object gave me the greatest sense of security. This is an object that hides in plain sight to most people. This is an object that occupies a variety of roles to a variety people. This is an object that people desire, even though most people only ever commit such desires to dreams and little else. The car relegated the status of the horse from enslaved mammal of transportation to recreational pet in the circles of the well to do of this world. Similarly, the invention of the car took the principle of the carriage, and turned it into an object of luxury, safety and utility.

In the modern age of today, the concept of utility has been completely turned on its head, and the humble hatchback is now viewed in the same way that horses were seen approximately two hundred years ago – as being nothing more than an efficient means to travel from points A to B. As a matter of fact, owning a horse in some social circles today is more of a status symbol than owning the most exclusive vehicle ever developed, even though it most likely would be less expensive, less temperamental and more efficient over a longer period of time. However, the carriages of old with the horses that powered them left something behind. This is something that has gone on to become a loyal companion of the car – surfacing the beaten paths where carriages had to labor. Second to human beings, nothing complements the existence of the car better than the road – an office where cars work to transport individuals to their corporate ivory towers.

1. © Road - Donga Tshabalala - ENLISTED by Donga Tshabalala

“Second to human beings, nothing complements the existence of the car better than the road – an office where cars work to transport individuals to their corporate ivory towers.”

The idea of assuming ownership of tangible objects is inculcated into our minds at an early age. This is an idea that evolves into the emotional attachment that human beings develop with what they own. Perhaps this idea, instilled into me from birth and reinforced by my socialization has contributed to the attachment that binds me to the automotive industry. In this modern age of Twitter, I find it still possible to retain my lack of surprise at the attachment that I feel towards the existence of tangible objects. I am a product of a materialistic world, and being cognizant of the materialism that pervades society does not absolve me of my materialistic behavior – even as I try to live a life that is not defined by superficial terms.

Cars are designed to provide people with nothing more than transportation, however their purpose has evolved ever since their invention. It is amazing to consider that this machine – born out of such a simple necessity – has had the capacity to inextricably weave its way into our lives. As it makes its way off the production floor and beats a path to the garage that it calls home, the car becomes more than just a machine; it becomes a part of our families. Nothing has come close to developing my understanding of the emotions that reside within me as much as cars do, and it is through this machine that I aim to explore human emotions by curating a list of cars – cars that I aim to relate to the defining stages of human infancy, adolescence and adulthood.

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