Saturday, July 10, 2010

Learning to drive

I'm betting that the one thing most of us remember is learning how to drive.  My goodness, I had a lot of experience in the driver's seat before I got my license.  As soon as I could get my permit, I was standing in line with Mom.  I could hardly wait. 

Before that happened, she and Dad had allowed me to drive the Volkswagen bug around the meadow up at the cabin.  Around and around I went, never going any faster than I could get in second gear.  But, I learned how to time those gear shifts so that I didn't completely embarrass myself by killing it.  That took me a few trips to figure out, but I did it.

I don't think that Dad ever did much teaching - I was terrified of him and I suspect that he was terrified of scaring me to death and causing me to drive into a telephone pole.  It was probably much safer for Mom to sit in the passenger seat.  She had no fear of yelling at me if I was doing something stupid.  She sucked in her breath a lot and made wavy motions with her hands while trying to keep me on the pavement and off the shoulder of the highway.  She wasn't terribly appreciative of my frightened sounds when I turned a corner or hesitated.  But, we all got through it.

The best compliment I ever got was driving with my grandfather in the back seat.  As I shifted down and came to a stop one day, letting up on the brake a bit before the stop and then bringing it finally to a halt, he quietly commented that he couldn't believe someone as young as I could make such a smooth stop.  What a strange thing for me to remember, but it felt great.

Mom was thrilled with having a driver that was excited about actually driving in her life.  The next summer we took a trip out east - we always drove straight through - 33 hours or so, switching drivers.  I was so happy to be behind the wheel that I'd do anything I could to drive.  Yup, she won.

As soon as I got my license, I had access to the car nearly every time I needed it.  Mom had access to a new taxi driver - I 'had to' take Carol and Jim wherever they needed to go.  Well, hello ... yes!  I've loved driving and feeling that sense of freedom from the very moment I learned.

Since I drove that five-on-the-floor bug, I ended up teaching a few of my friends how to drive a stick shift - in the parking lot at the Catholic church.  It was the biggest, emptiest lot in Sigourney during the day and tucked back a little bit so the entire world wasn't watching and laughing as my friends lurched through learning how to time that shift. 

You know ... once we learned to walk, we didn't want to crawl and when children learn to run, they want to run all the time!  We learn how to drive and we like how it feels.  Each of these things gives us a little more freedom than before.  We expand our world.

Every time we learn something new - we get a bigger picture of the world.  We shed fears about that part of the unknown, we gain a sense of control of a new part of the world. 

Learning is a great way to grow beyond what we know ... maybe it's a new hobby or a new part of our job.  When we stop learning, we we stop wanting to know something new, we cease to grow and become stagnant. 

I don't have a stick shift any longer, but if you get one, I'm glad to sit in the passenger seat and teach you how to drive it.  I will also encourage you every day to find something new to learn about.  Crawling ... walking ... running ... riding a bike ... driving a car ... flying a plane (ok, that might be a little over the top).  Everything makes your world view bigger.  Try to constantly find ways to do that!

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