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Life lessons on the road

10 Aug

When my dad decided he would teach his children how to drive, he had no idea what he was getting himself into.

The day I took my place behind the steering wheel marked the beginning of a very stressful period in my father´s parenting career. Teaching his absent-minded seventeen-year-old the ropes out on the road would entail a lot more patience, use of the handbrake, and partly held- back screaming (“There´s a TRUCK, didn´t you SEE that?”) than he had previously imagined.

Apparently I had a tendency to concentrate only on what was right in front of me. This annoying habit would become properly compensated two years later by my brother, who would develop an amazing skill at looking in all the mirrors almost simultaneously, but neglecting what was going on right in front of him.

But we both got our driver´s licences, and when my youngest brother got his license as well, I´m sure my dad must have patted himself on the shoulder for a job well done, rejoicing in the fact that he would never have to go through such an ordeal again.

During that training my father taught me something about skidding that I want to share with you. It is an advice that I have never forgotten, although I use it in a very different way. He told me that when people lose control over the car, they usually focus on the obstacle that they don´t want to hit, in an attempt to avoid it. But this is exactly what makes them drive into it.

What you have to do, my dad said, is focus on the place where you want to go. The space next to the tree. The exit of the bend. If that´s where you direct your attention, your chances of maneuvering towards that space are a lot higher.

I have found this to be a very useful piece of advice when things go wrong in other places too. When the wheels of a relationship lose their grip, when my own steering wheel doesn´t respond, when I want to push the breaks but I just keep skidding. When that happens I force myself not to look at the trucks, the trees, the precipice. With all my might I focus on where I want to go.

It´s the only way to get there.

 

 

 

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