Tuesday 19 August 2014

Why driving could be your biggest and best life achievement

*In collaboration with Debbie Fletcher
What would you consider as your biggest achievement in life? Many people would say getting a university degree, others might say completing a trading card collection. Now, you may not consider this a major thing, but driving could actually be your best life achievement. “But everyone does it,” you might say, “It’s too common.” Well then, let’s prove how such a common thing can be, indeed, your biggest achievement.

Back to the beginning
The renowned American psychiatrist Theodore Isaac Rubin once said that we achieve happiness not through doing easy work, but from “the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.” Do you remember your struggle through seemingly endless driving lessons and the amount of composure you had to exert during your driving test? At every moment and at every turn, you knew that everything you do can make or break you. Your palms were sweaty and you could feel that some part of your brain is giving up on you midway through a turn, but you took a deep breath and somehow managed to pull through.
Driving is a life skill that empowers you, but to be permitted to drive, you have to go through a series of nerve-wracking lessons and tests. There are probably hundreds of road rules, driving techniques, and troubleshooting tips you have to know by heart before you even get to actually sit behind the wheel. Being behind the wheel is another matter altogether; many people had to take their practical driving tests numerous times before they finally pass and be given their licence. Yes, these tests are major ordeals that all drivers have to face, but you have to admit that passing the actual driving test under the close scrutiny of examiners is no easy task.
Driving is demanding
When driving, your mind and body are both at work, and you have to be both a calm and a fast thinker with quick reflexes to avoid disasters. Learning to drive puts you in a blender of emotions—you feel excited yet nervous, happy but scared, ecstatic but hoping it’s all over. Driving can also be a test of patience in numerous situations—you may be stuck in traffic, someone almost hit you, there’s an impatient motorist behind you, you have noisy children on board—through it all, you know you have to keep a cool head.
Driving over long distances requires a lot of effort, focus and energy on your part as well—you can’t let your mind wander; you have to be on constant alert lest crossing sheep suddenly emerge out of the bushes onto the road, or you may miss a turn. Driving in roads previously unknown to you is also a test of fortitude, and when you get lost at night without a map or a GPS device, you have to think of the best way to survive without running out of fuel and losing your sanity. And of course, determinedly taking the driving test after numerous failed attempts gives you a strength of character that goes a long way later on in life.
Driving is liberating
Learning to driving is a major step towards independence. When you can already drive on your own, you won’t have to rely on your parents to take you around; you’ll also be able to do more things without having to wait for the bus. Driving empowers you, and is definitely a skill that becomes extremely useful in case of emergencies. The sense of achievement you get once you learn how to drive prepares you to undertake and achieve many more milestones in life. You may achieve many other great things, but nothing can truly compare to driving.

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