Over the past few months I have been learning to drive. I am reaching the age now where I cannot rely on my parents or my brother to shepherd me around from place to place. As you can imagine, the first few hours were a bit rocky and I was petrified to be behind the wheel. It was nothing like driving a shopping trolley, which my 8-year old self had led me to believe. It was considerably more complicated than that.
There were mirrors to check, indicators to signal, pedals to push, wheels to spin, gears to shift and that was only my car…not to mention anticipating what other people were doing and balancing it all in my head like a Eastern European acrobat. All the while, my instructor was telling me to take it calmly, hoping to intervene in a crisis and shout at me to get back on track if need be. I didn’t care for it at first, but by the fourth lesson, I appreciated it. In the same way, he has one instruction that constantly sticks in my head: release the foot brake.
Such a small thing got me thinking about the implications of what I was doing. I was finally in the driver’s seat. Taking myself forward of my own accord. I am of an age now, where I cannot rely on those around me to drive me forward. I can no longer sit in the passenger seat passively, waiting for someone else to take the wheel. Gone are the days that I could sit in the back and coast. And that revelation filled me a deep sense of apprehension.
I feel like a rubbish driver. Sometimes I just can’t get the engine going or there just isn’t enough fuel in the tank. But I know that it’s time I took some responsibility and learned what sort of person it takes to drive that car effortlessly. And so I look at my parents and my brother, who have learnt in their own way, adjusting the mirrors so that they can see where they are going, but also remember what is behind them and where they have been. The key is…vision.
So now I am ready to drive, but there is a wall that stands in front of me. It asks me whether I am ready to release my foot brake. It tasks me to move the car forward, and into the unknown, away from the comfort of the parked space that I have grown too fond of. I sit there looking at the empty seat beside me, waiting for my instructor to tell me to go. He is silent. He smiles and in that moment, I know that that decision is down to me. Am I ready?
I put on the indicator. A quick glance in the wing mirror. It’s all clear. Go.