A person who owns a car … never happy

Back when I was a kid there was a common saying that the adults used to have. When you were knee deep in some project and things were not going well, and you were walking around in cloud cursing this'n'that then some nearby adult would usually provide the following helpful input: "A person who owns a car will never be happy".

Okay. That input is not the least bit helpful at all really, and I used to sort of wonder what it really meant because I owned a car and I was happy (now and then; on occasion—at least I thought I was).

So, after years of analysis and thought I think I have cracked the message embedded in this piece of wisdom and I going to try and put it together here.

Basically this nugget of insight on life has very little to do with cars. The use of cars as the keystone is a bit of a red herring.

What this axiom is really saying is that anyone who is in, or is moving into, the zone of adulthood is less likely to experience carefree happiness. And as they move deeper into adulthood the frequency of 'happiness' will die off relatively.

I have very quickly sketched a curve in order to try and further clarify this characteristic of life.

This graph shows my approximation of the curve of happiness for a 'normal' person. It indicates the delights of happiness diminishing, or curving down, as we get older—going from "Joyous childhood happiness" at the top through to "the trials and tribulations of adulthood" at the bottom. You will notice there is a small 'up-tick' in the curve after 60 years of age, but I am not really sure this is true. It could just be a fantasy of mine as I approach 62. For all I know the curve may even trend further southwards (down).

So, back to the car thing. As you can see the happiness curve gets kind of serious around about when most of us would buy a car. Hence the adage: "A person who owns a car will never be happy". Because once you pass this point in the inevitable aging process the happiness curve just continues on its path southward.

How did Freud put it? Something like: 'Life as an adult is full of stress and misery. The best we can all hope for are small patches of relief'.

In reality the 'Car Ownership' stage could have been replaced with any number of events, such as: House Mortgage; Marriage; or Full Time Work. Like: "A person who has a house mortgage will never be happy". But I have to agree that using the car ownership event as the keystone does make the axiom sound marginally humorous even though it is actually depressing.

In a way I guess this axiom is another way of putting the age old truism of "Life is a bitch, and then you die", or as the ancient Egyptians used to say:

... and they were lucky to live until 35

Barry.