Alfa-Romeo (Type 939) Brera V6 by ItalDesign Giugiaro S.p.A.
Our lives find their definition on the roads we take. Roads serve as a representation of the physical commute or the more philosophical understanding of choice. At the beginning of every dawn, the sun and the freedom to choose rise alongside each other – intermingling themselves together to create an intoxicating concoction of possibilities. Each day brings with itself the prospect of the unknown; the fear of losing everything and having to rebuild a life or the excitement of learning something new with the promise that it will lead to a brighter future. However, these unknown prospects often disguise themselves in the form of the insignificant actions that are easily dismissed for their simplicity, only to have an unconscious, but significant influence on our perception of reality. Our minds are designed to prioritize the urgency of certain functions over others. This ability to focus on the priorities that matter the most at any given point in time is what makes it possible to execute our objectives, while dismissing the information that is not conducive to the accomplishment of our aims. While this may be an ability to treasure in fight or flight response situations, it does leave one to wonder: what ever happens to everything that we unconsciously see?
In recent years, I have established a relationship with the roads that link my home to the university that I now call my companion. This relationship that exists between these roads and myself has become the host to all the mundane commutes that have left me questioning the decisions that have culminated in the current state of my life. I sometimes suffer from that automated behavior which leads both women and men to merely go about their existences without ever questioning the significance of their actions. This is behavior that is experienced even more acutely by individuals who have become accustomed to perpetual routine, of which I have fallen victim. However, recognizing this behavior in other people is all thanks to the choice of roads that make my commutes to the university possible. On these roads, I have an opportunity to observe what people do in their cars, especially when gridlock traffic converts a highway into an eternal waiting line. Opportunities like this give me time to see women and men singing along to their favorite songs, people adjusting their makeup in their rearview mirrors, arguments between spouses, people texting to pass the time and children being disciplined into sitting upright with their seatbelts properly fastened. In the grand scheme of things, these are line items in the days of individuals with more pressing responsibilities. However, enough line items in a period of twenty-four hours can accumulate into a list of activities so innumerable that an attempt to dismiss them would not only be foolish, but impossible.
The commute is an activity that is enshrined into the annals of boredom. It is as pivotal to the existence of the “rat race” as oxygen to the human body. This is what causes people to see cars as nothing more than mere tools of transportation, as opposed to the instruments of joy that they can be. Vehicles should be thrilling devices that aim to make journeys more enjoyable than an arrival at a destination. However, the responsibilities facing the individuals who consider themselves “breadwinners” erases all forms of the mental freedom necessary to associate motoring with the sensation of joy. It is a shame to consider that a large portion of the global population falls prey to the reality of dismissing their dreams in exchange for the eternal quest to pay bills. This is a reality that instills a modicum of fear into my psyche. As a university student, I am at the precipice – the point at which adolescence comes to an end and adulthood begins. Upon graduation, the status quo for an individual in my situation involves employment, which would then be complemented by the creation of a family. However, this antiquated system of living life does not resonate with my sensibilities – it signifies an induction into the “rat race” that I fear; a world where people lose the passion in their souls and choose to exist instead of live.
The nature of concentrating on a finite number of functions at any given point in time means that our brains absorb more information than we consciously use. This results in an unconscious awareness of information that is triggered into use by any random set of innocuous activities. This behavior has played a role in my life – a role I recently became aware of. Over the past two years, I have been somewhat ambivalent about the array of cars that I see daily. On some days, I am privileged to observe as Aston-Martins roar into the distance, while most days provide me with the mundane sedan and the equally boring hatchback. However, there are certain vehicles so subtle in their charm that while they may lie within your line of sight, they can be equally dismissed because of the discerning nature of the people that they have been designed to appeal to. The route that I have been using to return home from university includes passing by the more affluent areas that surround the Johannesburg Central Business District. This has resulted in my fondness with a handful of roads, along which I know some tasteful vehicles will always be parked. In this two-year period however, one car has always existed within my line of sight, and I kept being dismissive towards it until one day, I found it parked alone – isolated from the exotic cars that typically capture my attention. The car in question was an Alfa-Romeo Brera, and the innocuous activity of being driven past it for two years has permanently inscribed its subtle style into the back of my mind.
“On some days, I am privileged to observe as ‘Aston-Martins’ roar into the distance, while most days provide me with the mundane sedan and the equally boring hatchback.”
“The car in question was an ‘Alfa-Romeo Brera’, and the innocuous activity of being driven past it for two years has permanently inscribed its subtle style into the back of my mind.”
I sometimes wonder if the Alfa-Romeo Brera is too subtle – capturing the eye of anyone with a penchant for aesthetics, while not being as ostentatious as a Lamborghini. As a successor to the Alfa-Romeo GTV – a vehicle that once won an award declaring it the most beautiful car in the world – the Alfa-Romeo Brera serves its predecessor proud. It is the sort of car that demands an attentive eye – the details of its design only unraveling themselves to anyone willing to take the time to understand its peculiarities. It has taken two years for me to unconsciously rationalize those peculiarities. Perhaps my dismissal of this vehicle has been attributed to the fact that unlike more exotic vehicles that attract attention by mere virtue of their rarity, the Alfa-Romeo Brera demands its respect without placing an imposition on anyone. This is an attitude that is not dissimilar to the individual who demands their respect while standing from across the room – being humble in their approach without being timid or being assertive enough not to be misconstrued for being aggressive. The car manages to crawl its way under your skin like the friend who became the pillar of strength your life needed – they manage to work their way into your subconscious, until the day you never knew them is forgotten.
“I sometimes wonder if the ‘Alfa-Romeo Brera’ is too subtle – capturing the eye of anyone with a penchant for aesthetics, while not being as ostentatious as a ‘Lamborghini’.“
“As a successor to the ‘Alfa-Romeo GTV’ – a vehicle that once won an award declaring it the most beautiful car in the world – the ‘Alfa-Romeo Brera’ serves its predecessor proud.”
It is not often that simple journeys along specific roads trigger memories that have been unconsciously harbored by years of routine commutes that leave someone in fear of being inducted into the “rat race.” Participation in the “rat race” is as much a choice as selecting which road to choose to either drive to work or to merely drive for the pleasure that it brings. In a similar manner, the dismissal of dreams for the sake of a daily existence is also a choice, irrespective of the alibis that we create to rationalize our foolish decisions. I remember reading something to the effect that “life is what happens while we are still busy making plans,” but I think that opinion undermines the power of the human brain to execute any ambition that it deems worthy of turning into a reality. I continue to be steadfast in my belief that LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE OF IT. As a member of the youth searching for a means to pave a way for myself, I have witnessed what the harshness of reality can do to the spirit that drives people to turn their dreams into their physical equivalents. However, I do not believe that even the harshest of realities can be enough reason to quench the desires that exist in our hearts. Dreams should not be dismissed; their value is far too infinite for them to be taken for granted. Dreams are the only saving grace that exists in this world – they make it possible for us to picture a world without limitations. These mental pictures are what characterizes the canvas of our visions, which also finds its influence from the information that rests in our subconscious minds – waiting for any innocuous activity to trigger it into action. I found my trigger in the form of an Alfa-Romeo Brera – parked along a sidewalk, waiting for someone to notice it.
“I found my trigger in the form of an ‘Alfa-Romeo Brera’ – parked along a sidewalk, waiting for someone to notice it.”