Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis – Unencumbered by Thought
It is with great sadness for me that NPR has announced that the main part of Saturday morning on NPR (KERA for me) will be no more. Brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi’s “Car Talk” radio show is to be retired at the end of September, 25 years after “Car Talk” began in Boston Massachusetts.
I first met Ray and Tom in a rental car on I85 out of Atlanta one Saturday morning in 1999, 13 years ago. WABE Atlanta has aired Car Talk at 10am since Click and Clack (their on air persona’s) held court. I was heading up to a retreat in North Carolina when I discovered just how funny and enlightening a car repair show can be. Tom and Ray offer an amazing array of valuable information about everything from the ethics of clutch maintenance to a dissertation on the state of the callers marriage through everyday vehicle usage.
“We’ve managed to avoid getting thrown off NPR for 25 years, giving tens of thousands of wrong answers and had a hell of a time every week talking to callers,” Ray Magliozzi reflected.
What Tom and Ray will be remembered for is their rigid adherence to being unencumbered by the thought process (Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis), rather the understanding that car maintenance is a direct reflection on the health and welfare of various relationships between people. This is because the answer does not lay in a Haynes manual but in the nuances of the interaction between the protagonists.
What Ray and Tom know is that we spend a lot of time over thinking all sorts of things, spending time evaluating the mechanics of life whereas true wisdom can be found in the obviousness and trivial. In one example, a boyfriend had rewired the heated seats to trick her girlfriend who was continually turning on his as a prank.This led to a discussion on the state of this guys relationship where he feels he needs to spend a couple of hours in the garage rewiring the switches, in a Subaru is no simple task. The answer to the question is why you do this instead of how you do this.
“If you hear a rattle in your car, turn up the stereo, that’s what it is for !”
What Tom and Ray show us is our deep anxieties and our desire to over think and over estimate the downside of a given path or outcome, where a more trivial path can be far more enjoyable. The path to true happiness is by not knowing anything, or if you know the answer, ask a different question, then you are comfortably less knowledgeable. This is the safest route if you have a PhD in Engineering as they both have.
Our happiness is inversely proportional to the amount of effort we put into thinking things through.
Because what (Paul) Murky finds out is that right brain people are about ten times as happy then left brain people. So the stupider you get — by left brain people’s measures of stupidity, of course. Because right brain people are too happy to waste their time developing IQ tests. But they’re ten times happier.
So the happiest people are the ones who tend to be unencumbered by thought or the preponderance of action and the inevitable outcomes they may or may not produce. We tend to be tied up in ourselves, our actions and our thoughts, rather than accepting what and who we are. We should all be happy to be reincarnated as a golden retriever who lives for the next toss of a ball.
In Ray and Tom’s eyes true happiness is found not in the car your drive or the thoughts you have, but in the company you keep. In this measure there is a degree of sadness as Tom and Ray and I part company one Saturday Morning in the near future.