“More gas. Gas. Gas-gas-gas-gas-gas!”
The engine quit without lurching this time.
“You need much much more gas when you’re letting out the clutch. Much more than you think.”
She turned the key and the engine obeyed– once again. There were some parked cars that made checking for traffic from the left a little tricky. It looked fine to me. She looked left and started letting out the clutch.
Like a robot, I ran my sub-routine, “More gas. Gas. Gas-gas-gas-gas-gas!”
Silence. The car rolled a few more inches, and a tear rolled down her check.
“You aren’t helping! I know what I need to do. Would you just be quiet?”
I’m lucky in many regards, and having a daughter who tells me when to stop is a big one. For Hard Tryers like me, being passive in the face of a problem with an obvious solution feels unnatural, but it’s a practice I’m learning to take more seriously. To justify it I tell myself that deciding to wait and see is actually an action. And so, the attention wheel applies:
- Decide to not do something.
- Don’t do it.
- See how that goes.
So what are the signs that we should wait and see? There’s no formula. Embarrassment can be a great sign that you are challenging yourself to face your fears. It can also be a sign that you’re doing something stupid, like barking at your daughter, and should stop. Single-minded determination, repeated warnings from friends, or that weird itch can all be signs to keep going or to stop and wait and see.
Here’s this week’s tidbit: Look at one thing you do out of habit, and see if not doing it will teach you something useful.
It’s not the same as Don’t Lists, which contain goals you decide not to do so you can focus on something else. Deciding not to do something because you do it automatically is just one more way to hone your attention skills, and retrain the Autopilot.
Back to the damn clutch.
Since she was very small she always preferred being alone when it was time to work out her frustrations and learn a new skill, and now, trapped in the car with her father by law, that best practice wasn’t available. At least the noise of her dad’s voice commands had stopped.
She quieted her mind and worked the levers and wheel. The car stalled many more times, but that tricky combiation of events under her feet was starting to make sense. She let the engine race faster than she felt comfortable doing. The tires chirped as the car lurched forward then stalled again. It’ll come, she was sure. Just be patient. Let it happen.