Learning to Drive

When I Became a Driver

Tuesday Timed Writing Sessions

Natalie Goldberg is known for her book, “Writing Down the Bones.” One technique she offers everyone is her practice of timed writing sessions. The basis is to find a prompt, set the timer for seven to ten minutes, and start writing non stop without lifting the pen off the paper until the timer goes off. I did a timed writing session on the following prompt and this is what emerged.

Prompt: Tell me when you learned to drive.

I was elated when I turned sixteen and got my driver’s permit. What I didn’t know at the time was that it would take me years to actually get my driver’s license at the age of thirty-two. Who saw that coming?

When I finally couldn’t live without driving, I caved in. I had grown accustomed to my non-driving life and was quite content. It became difficult to get around with three kids and dragging two car seats in an uber. Those were some crazy days. It’s amazing how far I went without learning to drive.

At first, I thought I’d learn from my husband, Shakil, just like at sixteen, I thought I’d learn from my Dad. Both were horrible experiences. It ended up in lots of conflicts. I finally decided to pay for classes and learn. I found a good capable teacher, who taught me enough to pass the exam.

After passing the exam, the real learning happened. I didn’t actually know how to drive until out I went into the open road and got lost one day with my kids and Mom sitting as passengers. I made the wrong turns and missed a few exits on the highway. The GPS kept telling me that my distance from my destination was continuously increasing instead of decreasing. The half hour ride turned into forty five minutes. The forty five minutes then turned into an hour. Being a novice, I never drove for more than thirty minutes at a time. As the distance and time kept increasing, I panicked. What will I do now? Should I call Shakil and tell him? I played the bizarre thought in my head. “Shakil, I’m on the highway and missed a few exits…took a few wrong turns. Now, I’m somewhere driving into oblivion and the time just keeps increasing.” How would he help me on my runaway car ride? I was on my own and it was my responsibility to get us back on the right track.

I kept driving and became aware of making the right turns and being cognizant of the exits I was supposed to take. The kids kept howling in the back, which made it difficult to focus. My Mom was extremely quiet and bribed the kids with some cough drops because that was the closest thing to candy in her bag.

One hour and ten minutes later, I recognized the main street I was driving on. With a sigh of relief, I realized in that moment that I was a driver. It just took me two decades, finding the right teacher, and then getting lost just so I can find my own way. Isn’t this what life is all about? First I kept going my merry way thinking that how I’m living life is swell. I grew comfortable with the familiarity of being a non-driver even when it was very uncomfortable. When I finally decided that I had to learn, I took action. I found a teacher to help me learn the basics. I passed the exam. That still was not enough to grant me confidence in my skills. I had to get lost in order to find my own way out. That’s when I gained trust in myself as a Driver. Learning to drive mimics many of my personal learning processes in life.

Do you remember the time you learned to drive? What lesson did you extract from that experience?

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