Thursday, October 15, 2009

Reversing around corners

One of the unfortunate distractions that comes with having my study at home upstairs and facing the front of the house is the sight of learner drivers reversing around the corner opposite. Now it has to be said that it is far too many years ago now that I learnt to drive that I really can't remember how difficult or easy I found mastering the art of this particular manoeuvre. I do remember my instructor getting me to reverse around a corner going backwards slightly downhill then uphill once around the corner and then following the s-shaped curve of the road. So maybe it came more naturally to me than to some or maybe my instructor was just particularly hard on me!

It's a fascinating procedure to watch from the comfort of my chair. I sometimes find myself quietly urging them to get "some lock on" as I watch the car drift around the corner and off towards the middle of the road. Even occasionally the opposite side of the road! Then comes the painful process of trying to get back towards the kerb and parallel to it. The most common mistake is over compensating and ending up going beyond straight, followed by a series of left-right wiggles that exacerbate the situation as the student driver reaches the point where they are clueless about which way any of the wheels might be pointing. Eventually they come to a halt.

My point is not the problems they have but wondering exactly what it is they are learning to do. Is it about control, spatial awareness or going backwards around a corner without hitting anything? Most of us who do drive usually opt for the later when performing this particular routine. We shove the car in reverse and worry very little about being parallel or even close to the kerb.

Do we do the same kind of thing with life? Do we go for a pragmatic solution that works rather than practice the good habits we once were taught but are rather tedious to sustain? We learnt to pray or to show respect to others or to read our Bibles on a daily basis, but somehow we've become too familiar with these things and they just demand too much, more than we are willing to give, in order to maintain the standards we once aspired to achieve.

And then again, how do we stop this becoming a guilt trip? There are no easy answers, but as I watch another student miss the corner by the proverbial country mile, I wish them well in their endeavours and wonder how much smoother my driving would be if I practised some of those long forgotten disciplines.

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