When I first got it I would take great pains to make sure that nary a stray fingerprint make itself comfortable on the casing of its great and mystical innards.
Now it has character.
Now it looks like it gets some use.
It exudes purpose.
My car was the same way.
I babied that thing through the whole winter that I first had it.
I'd bang my snow-covered boots ten times before plunging them into the appropriate area and begin my seated dance of forward motion.
(One would look awful funny without anything around them during the ritual of driving ... Russian or Celtic with a strange focus on hand gestures and head turns ... but I digress ... It's what I do).
I kept that thing clean as a whistle for the first year of its existence.
My mom always claimed she enjoyed letting me drive her around.
I always claimed she was going to ruin her nails if she kept clutching the door every time I made the slightest acceleration.
It was kind of cute.
But my car developed not only scratches but dents, dings, chips and streaks over time.
To me now it just looks like my car.
And with the last two years of models on the road to compare it to, it doesn't really need to prove itself as new anymore.
It's cool with being broken in.
It likes to show off how far we've gone together.
If it had stayed as pristine as it was on that cold November day that I picked it up from the dealer, I'd have to wonder ... who drives that thing? Or more importantly, does anybody?
But we show our resilience by the cracks in our veneer.
(How long do you think that vase will hold water?
I don't know, but it sure looks like it's been doing it forever).
The dings in the wall of the Green Monster in Fenway Park denote how many times baseballs have bounced off its famed surface.
I wonder who made the first dent in it?
I betcha nobody could tell you today.
When it happened though it probably became the talk of the park. The fresh, flat and placid was changed forever with the imprint of a ball covered in tightly wound string thrown with great force and struck in the other direction by a length of wood coming upon it with great speed and power.
And now it is so marked with indentations and inverted bubbles as to have a texture all its own ... the original layer of flat metal forever changed and forever changing as to focus on the marks, and not on the area untouched.
And so it is with many areas of life which we can look at upon at inception or receipt and take stock and marvel at its newness knowing that its luster will never be the same from this day forward if it is to be more than a museum piece. We acknowledge that it is part and parcel of being alive and/or purposeful in one respect or another to show signs of age, and we carry on and appreciate the fine details of its sheen or its innocence or its volume from the start while we buff it, shine it, seal it, or shield it from the elements, be they harmful words, actions, or intents, or be they wind, rain, snow, or sun.
We protect our investment while it provides a reason for being.
And as it gives us more and more to show for itself we learn to put up with the scratches that one day, not long ago, we would have never accepted.
As it shows its strength and resilience we overlook the occasional moment of weakness of character or conduct that once would have sent us scrambling for the warrantee.
As it breaks down we remember how much it gave us pleasure rather than remembering how much we paid for it.
And that is the art of living.
That is the beauty of purpose.
May we all find one in ourselves.
And if we have not up until now, may we find one in each other.
For in the errant marks of a surface that once shone our reflection, sometimes we finally see what drew us near from the start.