CPSDarren asked if I would write a paragraph or two as a review of our summer with the beloved Honda Odyssey Touring Elite 2011. I thought about it for the entire summer, and then today, our last day with the minivan, decided it was time to crunch this out.

First, a little bit about the title. There is a saying that “how you do anything is how you do everything.” Actually, it’s a nice book you can buy here. If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I’m a storyteller – that is, once I’ve warmed up to you and gotten over my shyness and fear that I’ll be annihilated if I speak, I can actually get going and work up a good froth until someone kicks me in the shins and tells me to slow down and give someone else chance. You see, I have a lot to say about brilliant insights I’ve made and philosophies I’ve created about this world. I just so rarely think that it’s my turn to say it. Sometimes, it’s just preferable to stay in my head where it all makes sense and nobody can sass me back. You’ll also discover that I’m incredibly self-referential – in the end, it’s all about me. I want people to come inside my mind and see and feel and understand exactly as I have. I’ve led a lifetime trying to pretend otherwise, but somewhere in my 40s (actually just last week), I discovered how shallow I really was.

I work for a large global technology company as a program manager, and am also an integral coach. The cool thing about integral coaching is that absolutely everything about your life reveals you in some way. Everything you say, everything you do is an expression somehow of you. The integral coach’s job is to help you become aware of those patterns, explore them, and then develop practices and new skillsets and qualities to step into a more fulfilling and authentic life. Cool, huh?

And so, as I think about my time with the Honda Odyssey Touring Elite 2011, I am thinking about why exactly am I thinking about these particular details? How does my choice of where to put my attention reveal myself to me and the world? Is what I am saying about this car somehow true for me in a larger context? Interesting thought experiment don’t you think? Let’s give it a try.

The first comment off the top of my head concerns the front row seat adjustments. You see, they are all nicely electronic – no mechanical heaving and pushing. I liked the luxury of this but would never have requested it in my own vehicle. I’m pretty plain and simple, and like to pretend that I don’t like luxury. It’s all too snooty for me. I’m much more Walden – put me in the woods in a cabin with a pen and paper and my own opinion and leave me alone kind of girl.

My problem here though, is that my husband set the seat position presets to his liking. Each time I got into the car, I set the controls as I liked them. Then, somehow, in some sneaky collusion, every time I exited the car and got back in, that car secretly reverted to my husband’s settings. I didn’t understand how this could be happening, so one day, I tried to trick the car. I exited for just 15 seconds, and as I opened the door, I caught it in the act of resetting. Aha! It was only pretending to love me! It really loved him more. Oh, the anguish.

I quickly got into the car and noticed that there were some very nice buttons to use to set the proper positions and SAVE them. My husband could have one saved setting, and I could have another. I found this very pleasing and laughed at my previous disdain. So, I tried to program in my preferences into setting #2. Afterall, I had multiple scientific degrees from noteworthy establishments and considerable on the job training which I like to brag about, while I’m pretending to be modest and humble. Of course I could figure this out. I did everything I could think of, but it never worked. That car just didn’t like me. Oh sure, I could have gone to look into the manual. I could have looked it up online in some tech support forum. I could have posted to the blogosphere at work. Heaven forbid I could have asked my local tech support (my husband). But hey! I expect it to work – my way, my rules, on my time. I don’t want to be bothered scrounging around for the right answer. I don’t want to have to tell someone. I just want it to work. I let this go on for weeks, and each week, I got more and more angry that the car just didn’t know how to please me. I pretended it didn’t matter and that all was peaceful and hippy dippy happy. But inside, I was simmering, boiling with rage. I expected it to know what I wanted and give it to me. Why should I have to tell it? Why should I have to make that extra effort? I’m a highly paid professional. After all, it’s the job of the designers at Honda to please me isn’t it? And so each day I drove that van, we got into this little standoff. I would set the seats where I wanted them, and the van would reset the moment it could. We just kept at it, neither one of us backing down. I suppose we were both being incredibly stubborn. I just wasn’t communicating my needs, and it simply was following some dumb rule somebody back home programmed into it.

Hmm. I wonder what my coaching colleagues would be saying about this right about now?

I suppose, the last topic for comment here is about the capacity of the van. Whatever we needed space for, it provided. Lots of kids, lots of luggage, cats, girl scouts, grandmas, groceries, snacks and movie screens for long trips. It lugged a basement full of old blow-molded primary-colored preschool toys to a garage sale, and another cabin full of 1980s vintage linens of questionable aesthetic to good will. It was a real trooper. I appreciate a hard worker that doesn’t complain.

And so, in the end, I’ve written this long winded quaint summary of my experience with the Honda Odyssey Touring Elite 2011. It’s a good van. But what does this all say about me? After all, this was about me, wasn’t it? What does your relationship with your car say about you? Oh wait a minute. I don’t really care. Keep those comments to yourself. This really is just all about me.

(Part I is here, you can also find my 2011 Odyssey previews, plus Kecia’s full Odyssey review, long term updates and a thread on child restraints in the Odyssey at our forum)