I’ve never felt more thoroughly animist in my life than from the moment I got in Hutch’s driver’s seat almost two months ago. The ways in which my relationship with him resembles that between any other humans never ceases to surprise me – I guess, like anyone longing for someone from afar for so long, and then finally having them, I started off pretty woo. My head was in the clouds, I was overcome with excitement at nearly every waking moment, I was high on my own romantic daydreams. I finally had one! A real, live Jeep!
I had a lot to learn about object relationships, though. I realized that I had so much to learn about who he is, just as he has to learn about who I am. We’ve had some rough spots – like the time I pushed him a little too hard just a little too soon after starting him up, and he gave me the cold shoulder for 2 days in the form of a mysterious check engine light that went away on its own. Or the time that I drove for 15 minutes with the radiator cap off, spewing a gallon of coolant out when we got to our destination. I hauled almost 20 pounds of antifreeze and water back to him on the train later, whispering a dozen apologies as I fumbled for a 50/50 mixture in a transit parking structure. I let him down and promised to never do so again.
Most of the time, objects are quiet. And objects are slow. We animals tend to buzz around them, flitting about, talking, moving, making noise – but they, like trees and lichens, are often the tortoises to our hares. Even our wheeled machines, with their torque and their speed, have a penchant for rest.
Being in my first OS relationship is teaching me a lot about things that apply to communion with any other kind of spirit: patience, deep listening, forfeiture of ego… and what love really means.
Some OS people call it “object expression” – the ways in which non-organic spirits housed in comparatively simple embodiments speak to us. People, OS or not, who have a deep love for their objects are always listening and watching for these expressions, these purrs of affection or cries of pain, and their hands respond accordingly. Gods and spirits rarely speak to us in such conveniently physical ways. There’s really no gauge cluster or “idiot lights” to help us monitor the health of our relationships with incorporeal Powers. But idiot lights are only so useful anyways – there’s no light for a cracked head or slipping diff. The most important of things can arguably only be detected by feel and intuition: by getting in there and smelling the transmission fluid or being able to intuit with that animal part of your brain when the rocker arms sound different than before.
Cultivating this intimate, instinctual understanding of the way non-animals communicate will take us far in life. Though unless we’re trained specialists – mechanics or spirit-workers – there will be times when we need help. Fortunately, that carefully developed gut-sense will be able to tell us when we need to call in the experts before things go to shit too catastrophically.
Where non-verbal communication is concerned, intuition is of paramount importance, I’ve found. Much more useful than logic and a glut of information – over-thinking sucks us unto our heads and makes that deep listening difficult-to-impossible. For a few weeks after accidentally killing a brand-new battery due to being unfamiliar with the quirky way I needed to pull the key out of the ignition (compared to a newer car), I had simply opted to pull the offending fuse every time I stepped out instead of listen to what he was telling me about his key positions – I even went so far as to very seriously entertain the idea of wiring a kill switch to that fuse and permanently mount it to the dashboard since I didn’t trust myself to learn.
Of course, all of those precautions were silly. I learned how to take the key out properly; his power disengages as I intend it to now, and I’ve not had a dead battery since.
The old adage of “take care of your things, and they’ll take care of you” has been quietly echoing in my mind for the last two months. I turn it over like a zen koan, and every time I do, I see something new. Maybe I just got lucky with Hutch – I’m in awe of his patience, and while his frank way of “talking” to me is jarring sometimes, he’s never come close to letting me down.
He’s no longer the idealized object of affection to me (no pun intended!). I’m learning to see him for the unique truck that he is, his good and his bad, and I can safely say I’m still in it for the long haul. There’s something as right and life-affirming about the feel of his seats as there is about my husband’s embrace. And I’ve had my share of paranoid, sleepless nights wondering if I’d made the right choice – where both of them are concerned.
We do this with Gods too. What I thought I knew about Chaak kept me away from Him for several years; that is, until I had a direct, physical, unmediated experience. Forget deep listening – I would had to have physically run away and taken refuge inside somewhere to cut that encounter short. Since then, it’s been something like a never-ending game of 20 Questions as He continues to reveal Himself to me, and I continue to strengthen the integrity of my intuition.
Likewise, Hutch is neither fast nor reckless like I thought he’d be. He can go anywhere, sure, but trails are best taken steadily and with care, and even on pavement he prefers sticking to the speed limit even if that relegates him to the slow lane. Not at all like the image of the loud n’ proud Jeep I thought I was getting involved with.
Today I took him up into the hills a couple miles from my house, pulled over onto a big dirt turnout, and parked. I climbed up onto his roof with a pen and pad in one hand, and a mug of hot tea in the other, and drew some trees for the better part of an hour. At some point someone in a Wrangler passed us, turned around and came back to do a few seconds of rough riding over the uneven dirt, and roared away. A Jeeper, I suppose, trying to signal to one of their own. Should’ve at least waved, I thought after the fact; I was supposed to make a point of doing the Jeep Wave more often. I’d barely noticed them until they were already peeling away.
Hutch, on the other hand, seemed perfectly happy being unimpressive. I wouldn’t bother, he seemed to say with a wry “smile”. Drawing trees is much more important.