My first car was a Subaru sedan. It was a cream little buzz box with 3 brown stripes running the length of all 4 doors. I loved that car, it was a huge marker at the beginning of my adult life. I used to hop in it and without asking permission or telling anyone what I was doing, I would just drive and drive and drive. The feeling of independence and escape was so liberating for me, no one really knew where I was, or where I was going, not even me.
When I first got this amazing machine it ran like a dream, but several years later and after a few dents and a gasket explosion, the vehicle started “playing up”. Something unidentified was starting to happen to my beloved freedom tool. After each mysterious stall and break down I went to a mechanic; infact over 12 months of my cars illness I went to several mechanics all of them saying the same thing, “Nothin’ wrong with the car luv.”
One morning, I was on my way to work and it happened again. The car stalled and then stopped dead in the middle of a busy intersection. As the rest of the caring traffic honked their horns as they listened to breakfast radio, a lovely person helped me push the car to the side of the road and helpfully suggested “You should get your car looked at pet.”
Lucky for me, just a couple of doors down from the spot where I received this helpful advice was a random mechanics garage. As I was already seriously late for work I ran through the shop door and begged the man at the counter to take a look at the car. He must have seen the desperation on my face and calmly looked at me, sighed with a slow kind smile and nodded accepting the job. I dragged him out of his front door and pointed at my lifeless car, shoved the keys in his hand and hopped on the next tram yelling back “I am so late, I have to go, I’ll pick it up after work.”
Well, as you can guess the rest of the day went the same as the morning, I was late to work which evened out as I was late leaving work, which meant I was late to the garage. So in the same panic as I did earlier that morning, I hurled myself through the shop door and started ringing the counter bell at least 20 times. As the high pitched noise bounced off the white tiled shop front, the calm man from this morning, strolled from the back of the garage to where I was standing. His head was down as he rounded the door way, but I could see he had the biggest smile beaming from under his cap. All he said was, “I knew it was you”. The way he said it so quietly and kindly, stopped my hand mid ring. It was not nasty, impatient or condescending, he actually knew it was me and I realised this person was genuinely glad to see me, not, apprehensive, annoyed or exasperated. Just simply pleased that I was there.
All of a sudden I stopped feeling “Late” and with a shocked pause and a slight uncomfortable cough I asked “Have you fixed it?” After a couple of moments the machinic looked me directly in the eyes and said. “Today, I could not find anything wrong with your car.” With this I completely slumped in defeat, he must have read my face again. Holding up his huge blacken hands he added “But I will find out, I will need the car for a little while longer. ” He said this with such confidence I believed him. He also spoke with a lovely soft Greek accent that made me think of Baklava and roasted eggplants, he was like a Greek version of Santa Clause, this made me feel strangely at ease.
Nodding and sighing I hitched my bag on my shoulder and contemplated the long journey home on public transport, then suddenly it dawned on me that I would be late to a friends dinner party tonight. Thinking to myself, will this ever end, I groaned and slumped over the counter once more. “Is this not good for you?” the mechanic asked. “No” I replied in resignation “Im just late, I am always late.”
Now to be completely honest here, this was not the truth. I was and have always been early or occasionally on time, I am hardly ever late. My punctuality actually even annoys some people. Even when I was pregnant, my waters broke on the exact date that the obstetrician said they would and that is never heard of. However even though I have always been on time, I have run through my life like I have been trying to catch up to something, rushing in a mad panic to “get everything done”. But strangely I never once asked myself what I was running toward or why.
The only person that had asked was this mechanic leaning on his shop counter. “Why you rush all the time?” he gently asked. All I could answer was “I don’t know.” The mechanic shook his head and clicked his tongue and said (to my Australian ears) “Cigar Cigar” (or “Sigá Sigá”). As I looked perplexed at my new friend he tried to explain about this notion of slowing down, and to stop rushing.
I cringe now when I see myself looking at this lovely man cautioning me to slow down with caring earnest. At the time I had no idea what he was on about, but he was going to fix my car so he could have told me Christmas was in March and I would have agreed. However this moment has always stuck with me, every now and then I would hear him say “Siga Siga”. Through the years this phrase would tumble around my mind like a stray sock in a dryer. Only until now, do I fully understand what he was trying to tell me.
The concept is hard to describe it is not stopping everything you are doing, or doing nothing. It is just making time to do life slowly, to be more deliberate, to be considered what is best. Not to rush toward the solution or answer, but to stroll towards a resolution that fits as gently within your life as you do. Below is a quote from a great article that explains this philosophy perfectly, titled “SIGA SIGA “SLOWLY SLOWLY” By The Cozy Greek.
“I connect Siga Siga most to slowing down in an overall sense of being. Both physically and mentally – Siga Siga has become my go-to reminder that there’s no need to fast-forward through life to get to where you want to be and that going slowly isn’t a sign of weakness; rather it can be a sign of joy in the journey” https://thecozygreek.com/index.php/2021/04/30/siga-siga-whats-the-meaning-of-greek-phrase-and-how-to-embrace-it/
It has taken me many years and a few heartbreaking disappointments to realise that what the mechanic was saying, was that rushing to get some where or to join in, doesn’t matter. The party will go on regardless of your timing, the weekend will still be there, the festivals will still happen, the friendships will still last (if they are meant to) even if you are late or do not show up at all. The path through life doesn’t need you to race toward it, because you are already on it. All I was doing was rushing through life and not seeing it.
The memory of this amazing mechanic holds a special place my my heart and soul. What I see is a man of kindness, trying to shine a light in a storm, that did he not create, could not control or even require him to help, but he tried to anyway. He never did find out what was wrong with my car, no one could, but he did end up helping me, even though it was over 30 years later.