Maybe we shouldn’t have bought her the car?
Recently we needed to get my daughter a car to get her to and from school. She did all the research, scouring the local dealerships’ websites for her first car. My job was easy; I just needed to pay for it.
She settled on a used, rather sporty Honda Civic, two door coupe. Her only concern?
She didn’t know what the clutch was for.
The car was perfect, except for the fact it had a stick shift. My job was to teach her the art of driving with a manual transmission. At some point it just became easier for me to simply drive the car myself.
I had forgotten how much I had always enjoyed driving with a stick shift. I had gotten used to the less-involved, far more simplistic version of driving with an automatic transmission. But just like riding a bicycle I quickly regained the mechanics of smoothly negotiating gas-clutch-shift. For the first time in years I felt like I was actually driving, an active participant interacting with the road ahead. No more free ride for my left foot.
The biggest difference in driving a stick? Awareness. You focus far more intensely on things you wouldn’t ordinarily need to when driving an automatic transmission. You need to more fully understand your environment, observing and accounting for the contours and elevations of the road, shifting and adjusting accordingly, listening to and feeling the vibration of the engine in order to purposefully and intentionally respond with the fluidity and grace of a tai-chi master. A rather tactile experience. Continue reading “Life Is A Journey, But Are You The One Who’s Driving?”