Monthly letter

How’s my driving?

Driving for most of us is at best a functional skill.  Occasionally, however it can become far more than that, driving can be seen as an art form in its own right.  I am not a very good car passenger usually just sitting and tolerating the journey, but there have been times when I have travelled in a car where the skill of the driver has mesmerised me. To sit with them, and to see the wonderful ease and control with which they have over any situation is a joy which even seems not to be limited to their own vehicle but to influence others around them.   They just seem to have this ultimate skill which enables them to “make progress” whilst the rest of us seem to be bogged down in the traffic. 

So what is it that these drivers have which is the basis of their skill?  I have watched such drivers closely over many years, and the only difference I can perceive is simply awareness.  When you travel with such a driver it is just like watching a swan on a river.  On the surface everything appears to be calm, yet underneath the legs are moving like mad. But it isn’t the legs of the driver that are moving, it is their senses. Watch the eyes of any good driver and you will notice their eyes constantly moving from short to long distance, and most importantly to the rear view mirror. The eyes are everywhere.  Their mind is constantly analysing what is happening, and most importantly the many situations which may arise.  They are never surprised by a traffic event, they have anticipated it long before it happened, from just being in the right place to overtake a slower vehicle without a hint of danger or to knowing when to hold back as they are aware that the car which is fast overtaking other cars, will soon be overtaking them.  Analysing the situations and a constant awareness of where they are all contribute to the ease and efficiency with which they handle their car and the circumstances they find themselves in.  Nothing is done in a panic, it has already been thought out.

Looking and analysing are the essential skills of the good driver but such skills are not limited to just being a good driver.  In that sense driving can be seen as an example of the many skills with which to make a success of life.  It may not be in driving a car where we can be skilled but there are plenty of other situations where similar skills are required.  Family life, for instance, can for some be compared with driving in difficult situations, occasionally in extreme situations as children grow up and begin to exert their own authority! Friendships can break down when one, or perhaps both, are intent on driving their own agenda rather than having a more general concern for the other.

 It is in all aspects of life those skills of awareness and analysis can give a greater sense of ease to life.  We cannot avoid the pitfalls, but we can make them more bearable. It is not limited to our individual lives only.  It is perhaps even more important in our collective lives.  The present health situation we find ourselves in didn’t just arise out of the blue. There has long been evidence that this sort of problem has been on the horizon, and looking back we have seen many examples of it before.  So why have all been content to continue as if it would not happen, to live as if ours was the only car on the road and doing just as we wanted without a thought to where it might lead? 

Trying to be a good citizen needs the exact same skills as the good driver.  It needs us to recognize the situations and the needs all around us, and recognizing them to act in good faith and in good time.  It is often the inattentive driver which causes the accident.  If we compare being a citizen to being a good driver, is the world in such safe hands when it is us taking the decisions?  As we look at the world all of us ought to be asking, “How is my driving? The better the skills the less accidents there will be, whether on the road or in our collective world.

Rev David Shaw