Monday, 6 February 2012

Staying Alive

Yup, five weeks into starting driving lessons and I AM STILL ALIVE. This is the diametric opposite to what I was convinced would happen when I began driving again. The even more amazing fact is that EVERYONE ELSE IS ALSO STILL ALIVE. Impressive, I know. I have been a dedicated student. The Highway Code is my constant companion. I stare at people, somewhat alarmingly for them, as they drive. I am a terrible back seat driver muttering about harsh gear changes and being heavy on the break. I'm desperate to learn, taking every opportunity I can. I still have to spend half an hour talking myself down from the (metaphorical!) ledge before each lesson and have to instruct myself to breath at regular intervals. But I remind myself that I am still doing it even though each lesson feels like walking into a den of really hungry lions who have previously said that their favourite meal is small, brown haired English people.

What I have found interesting are the parallels between learning to drive and how I approach many other things in life. I wonder if this is a more universal phenomena? I do like to think I am slightly more competent in general that behind the wheel. I don't start screaming behind my desk when I can't format an excel sheet or cry over preparing a meal (except when there are onions involved). This is probably because there is no immediate fear of death from excel failure or a bad pasta bake but otherwise there are some real similarities in how I approach driving and other things in life. In the last few weeks I have had some pretty in depth references written about me and the comments made there and in the course of my driving lessons have been alarmingly similar. 'You have every right to be where you are,' my referee said to me over coffee. 'You have as much right to be on the road as any other driver,' my driving instructor said to me at the end of this weeks lesson. Hmm. I'm sensing a pattern!

The other thing that has come up in the course of my driving lessons is that I spend a lot of the time I'm driving worrying about the cyclist I nearly took out on that last bend or the mini roundabout that I had a mini melt down on rather than worrying about what is happening on the road NOW. How true is THAT of how most of us live our lives. Looking in the rear view mirror and thinking 'Crikey, that was a bad move.' As my instructor says 'It's over, get over it. There is a whole new set of problems to worry about that are happening now.' As much as there is not much point worrying about what is coming tomorrow, there's not much point in dwelling on what happened yesterday once you've learned everything you can from it. There comes a point where bashing youself with the idiot stick is getting you nowhere and only holding your attention in the past. Today has enough troubles and opportunities of its own to navigate and they need your full attention.

Blog fodder AND I'm still alive. These lessons are good value, huh?


  1. A really thought-provoking post, Nicola, drawing some interesting parallels. Too many lives are blighted by fruitless dwelling on the past, when now is what really matters. Good luck with the lessons. Do you have a date for your test yet?

  2. At the danger of posting two serious comments on your blog in a row (normal service will be resumed shortly, promise), what you wrote about past/future is what's made me interested in so Zen over the last few months. Neither the past nor future really exist as far as I can see, the future is just a set of hopes/fears that will never come to pass exactly as you imagine, and the past is just your imperfect memory of a set of events, none of which really happened as you remember them. That realisation really resonated with me, and has made it quite hard to beat myself up over what's happened before, and equally as impossible to worry about the future :) What's nice is that I find it a lot easier to focus on the present and to be mindful of what's happening literally right now, which is so, so important to me when I'm living through such a precious, short lived time of my life as I am now.

    Oh, and on a more-usual note, people can, and do, die because of Excel. Just Say No To Spreadsheets

  3. Thanks Perpetua, no date yet. I think I'll need quite a few lessons!!

    Paul, this is a rather worrying trend! ;) Can see why you've been thinking about it tho, every moment with Ellie is precious and I can't believe how much she has changed and how fast! One minute she's a tiny baby and next she's doing all sorts of things for herself! Even saying that makes me feel soooo old! Ha!