Who knew that you could find wisdom for living in a tire shop? But you can, and in this little essay, I’ll try to prove it. So, to quote our President, here’s the deal. Tire stores exist because cars need tires to run on. No tires, no car travel. But the tires must be and stay in good shape. Once the treads are gone or nearly so, the car will slip and slide all over the place, even in good weather, let alone in rain, snow, or ice. So you have to replace those round car-feet from time to time to make sure you can go up hills and down dales safely. Beyond this, you have to keep your tires inflated to just the right pounds-per-square-inch (PSI) as specified by your automobile’s manufacturer. Also, there is the matter of balance. Tires have to hit the ground to permit the maximum tread on the ground. So all four of them must be in balance with one another to enable this to happen. Finally, there is the matter of alignment. According to Google, “[tire] alignment refers to an adjustment of a vehicle’s suspension—the system that connects a vehicle to its wheels. It is not an adjustment of the tires or wheels themselves. The key to proper alignment is adjusting the angles of the tires which affects how they make contact with the road.” If cars are not in good alignment, they will eventually become undrivable...
We human beings are not machines. Still, we have to maintain ourselves so that we can live our best possible lives. On the biophysical level, this means having a good, nutritious diet; staying at a healthy body weight; and exercising regularly. In addition, it’s a matter of improving our minds; finding and using reliable sources of factual information; interspersing work with leisure; and, above all, learning to relate well to others. Yet there is one other factor we must attend to: alignment. In our case, that means finding out who we really are and attuning where we go, what we do, and with whom we do it to our true inner nature. The car manufacturer will tell owners how much air their tires require, but for better or worse, we need to find out through trial and error what our individual specifications are before we can attempt to follow them. The usual term for this activity is “finding oneself.” Who am I really? The hope is we can discover that early enough in life before others—family, friends, teachers, or society at large—cause us to live in ways that are out of alignment with who we really are. An artist or musician by nature and talent who feels constrained to become a businessperson will limp through life like someone wearing the wrong size shoes. No wonder the Oracle at Delphi told Socrates to “know thyself,” a principle Socrates passed on to his students.
Step two, however, is equally difficult. Having become convinced about who we are, we need to live our lives in alignment with this self-knowledge. When God sent Moses to tell pharaoh to let his people go, Moses wanted to know God’s name so that he could tell the Egyptian king by whose authority he was making that demand. God responds to this effect: “Tell pharaoh that “I Am” [or, “I Am Who I Am”] has authorized you.” God in short is truly and fully in alignment with his/her divinity. A good, truly successful human life requires no less from us.