After a week at Zen Garage I learned a lot, to say the least. I learned a lot about the business, a lot about myself, a lot about the car scene and most importantly I learned the true meaning of ‘Zen Garage’. I know it’s ok if I don’t get it, but after spending a week there, I am happy to say that I most certainly do get it. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know all that much about Zen Garage before I went and spent a week there. What I know about that place now, that wonderful and unique place, is something I am very fortunate to have had a first hand experience with.

To explain Zen Garage, I have to explain Zen, or at least my definition of Zen. Bare with me here because it may get a little bit strange but I promise you it’s worth the wait! Zen is defined by one of many schools of Buddhism, the word ‘Zen’ roughly translates to “absorption” or “meditative state”. While this is considered the definition of Zen, I have often found that it is almost always encouraged to be defined by the person who is studying it. To very roughly narrow it down, anything can be Zen, Zen can be found in just about anything. Zen can be seeing a fish in water, it can also be staring at the sky. In my research I have found many different ways to describe Zen but never have I found one single, definite way to describe Zen, it’s just too personal to be pinned to one label like that. Zen comes down to whatever you want it to be, whatever calms your mind to the point of absolute clarity, that is Zen. Or at least that is your Zen.

Ok enough of the hippy stuff (it’s relevant, I swear!). You’re probably asking how an ancient religious discipline relates to a business in Sydney, well here comes the only possible way I know how to come close to describing Zen Garage, because much like Zen itself, it is simply too broad to describe as one thing. Similar to Zen, Zen Garage can be just about anything. One day it can be a car showroom, showcasing some of the most beautiful examples of automotive passion that Sydney, no Australia, has to offer. The next minute it can be a place to relax, hang out with friends and chat away an afternoon in what seems like no time at all. Throughout my week at Zen Garage people came from all over, to play video games, to read magazines, to buy clothes and accessories or just to hang out. This was particularly strange to me because it goes against all my retail training of “customer comes in, greet them politely, sell them whatever and then get them out”. Zen Garage is not like that at all, in fact it’s not like anything I’ve ever experienced at all!

I had a lot of my friends and family asking me all week “what is Zen Garage?” and I honestly didn’t know how to answer it. I spent the whole week trying to nail down one thing, trying to define it as something just so I could explain it but I just couldn’t. That is why my own definition of Zen Garage is that it is undefinable, it is simply too unique to define as one thing and that is a very good thing. Zen Garage is such a special place to be in, ideas are better, smiles are bigger, people are more friendly and everything just flows a lot smoother as soon as you pass through that old metal roller door.

I think some of you who have been there will know exactly what I’m talking about, but for those of you that have never visited the store, I completely recommend dropping whatever it is you’re doing right now, hopping in the car and heading straight there. You will not regret it! The staff are some of the nicest and most knowledgeable people you will ever meet. They are driven by passion, you can see it in everything they do and they pass that on to anyone who goes in there. There is no such thing as a stupid or lame idea within those walls, as long as it’s your passion then they are into it. I was honestly about to give up writing before I was given the chance to spend my week there and now I am more determined than ever to make it work! Where else do you get that kind of inspiration? I can’t think of anywhere…

It’s not limited to things like that either, it’s so much more than that. If you want to lower your car to the point of making it nearly useless, they are there to chat to about all the different ways to do it. If you want to go out and get the wildest paint job in the world then they will bounce some ideas off you, sometimes it’s something you may not have even considered. I spent most of the week watching the guys there talk to all kinds of people, into all kinds of things and not once did I see a single one of those people leave without a huge smile on their face.

I may have waffled a bit there, but I only have good things to say about Zen Garage and the people who are responsible for making it what it is, so I will leave it at this:

Zen Garage is like nothing else, it is a cultural hotspot centered around car culture but that broadens to almost any hobby or passion. There is no wrong way to be at Zen Garage, it is all inclusive and completely accepting of anything you can throw at it. Zen Garage is a home for the dedicated, the creative, the crazy and the brilliant. I genuinely love being there because of how much fun I have being around everything that it is.

I think I have definitely found my Zen.

– L