There are just some things that tattoo themselves into your memory. They may not be of epic proportion, but their effects run long and deep. One of those, for me, was my Dad teaching me to drive an old standard Volkswagen.
It was frightening enough turning left onto Cantrell Road, but my mouth would go dry when he asked me to take Pine Manor Drive. The road was narrow, there were no curbs, and it was lined with tall pine trees and what seemed to be ditches that could swallow a VW.
It always took me four or five attempts to get the car from park to rolling in first gear. Dad called them my warm-up starts. I’d creep down the half block and turn right into what felt like an obstacle course. Gripping the steering wheel like it gave me more control and leaning so far forward my nose almost touched the windshield, I’d pray no cars would come from the opposite direction.
On our third trip down Pine Manor, Dad noticed how terrified I was. “Suzette what are you so afraid of,” he asked almost laughing?
“If I make one wrong move, we’re toast,” I answered.
“You’re only going 5 miles an hour so I think we’re safe. Besides it’s really fairly simple,” he said.
“Really? And how is that,” I asked bringing the car to a dead stop because another car was coming.
“Just keep it between the ditches and you’ll be fine,” he smiled.
I thought about it for a minute and realized he was right. That made sense, not only for driving down Pine Manor, but for living. Keep it between the ditches.
So after 5 more warm-up starts we were on our way again.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”