I grew up on a farm in the 70s.
There are many good things about growing up in the peace and quiet of farm life. But then there are also a lot of downsides too, for a young person with an enquiring mind and a yearning to see the world. A person like me.
One of the good things about farm life is that at a very early age, as soon as physically possible, you learn how to drive.
Learning to drive was one of the single best memories of my childhood. A talent and skill that I have loved and cherished for most of my life.
It started when I was possibly 5 or 6 years of age and I would sit on my fathers knee and steer the car. The steering wheel was huge in my little hands but I felt big as I steered our car along the road or path.
I was then introduced to changing gears as I could still not reach the pedals on my own. My father taught me to listen and feel the cars engine. Listen for the right time, the exact movement when I would need to change up or down gears. My little hand would reach over and grip the gearstick and I would call out 2nd or 3rd… and change gears.
The day came when I was finally able to reach the pedals. The clutch. The brake. And my personal favourite; the excelerator. The juice!
After that there were few places that I didn’t want to drive and there were few vehicles that I didn’t want to drive. At the age of 10 or so I had started making a little list of the cars I would own and the places I would drive them to.
I loved the joy of going for a drive. A Sunday drive or just a drive to somewhere I had never seen before. It was my magic carpet to wherever I wanted to go in life and I became so used to driving that I never thought for one moment that I would ever. Ever. Ever. Not be able to drive.
In my twenties I came close to being stopped from driving a few times, due to a passion which became a habit, of speeding, and I felt that the speed limits were not reflecting my need to get where I needed to go. I think at the time I was just aching to go further afield.
So I did.
Finally I launched out and went further afield. I made it to the bigger cities where I was shocked to find SO many other drivers and I was merely one in a very, very, very long traffic jam. I was in a new world where my beloved driving was an exercise in frustration and constant annoyance. I was just a number.
The realization that public transport was way more efficient and less annoying was a very difficult blow for me to recover from. With indignation I bought my train ticket to become a city commuter to work. And that’s sadly where my driving story would end.
I got sick. Actually I got sick and blind in one eye. Since that day, my vision and my ability to drive never returned.
Although… I miss it terribly. Even now. Especially now. Driving means freedom and independence, not just fuel and chrome. It means discovery and adventure. Not just wheels and leather.
For many years I have waited and dreamed of the day I would / could drive again but at some point you stop waiting and start accepting.
The problem of all the things you acquire in life and all the abilities you learn is that you think they will be there forever. And nobody tells you what to do when they are gone.
I wish learning how NOT to drive was as easy as learning how to drive.