Great Opportunity Arises in Fear

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behind the wheel

A Right of Passage

My son just completed his online driver’s training course.  Next stop?  Behind-the-Wheel training.  I worry and harbor fear for him, mostly because  I remember the hours my father spent teaching me how to drive a stick-shift.  I also remember, with much dread, sitting at the Department of Motor Vehicles when I was sixteen.  My hands shook, my heart raced, a trickle of sweat dripped behind my ear.  I had passed my written test previously, but had failed the “driving” portion once already.  What if I didn’t pass?  I just wanted a chance, but my nerves were shot; my voice even trembled.  All I could think about was if my mom would let me drive the car to school – if I ever passed the test and finally held a wonderful little piece of plastic with my picture embedded on it that is the right of passage for every teenager in America.  Oh, if only…

I passed!

Whew! I was handed the keys to my mom’s 1967 Volkswagen Bus.  I was allowed to drive it whenever I wanted.  I was so excited and couldn’t wait to drive around my hometown of Whittier, California, just hoping to run into someone I knew.  I drove past my friend Lisa’s house, she wasn’t home.  I drove past Naugles – a popular fast food joint – but no one I knew was there.  I drove past the mall, but too scared to park by myself, I shifted gears and pulled out of the parking lot and just headed back home. But I had put ten miles of “alone” drive time in.

Beating Fear

I had accomplished a goal that I feared, one that meant everything to me, and one that marked a step toward independence.  I had also mastered driving a stick shift.  I had learned how to push start a Volkswagen and a Fiat.  Life seemed good.  That is until six months later when my family boarded a plane and moved to La Porte, Indiana.  A city in the Northern Midwest where the snow fall averages 65 inches every year.  I was a California girl with NO experience driving in snow or on ice.  None.

A Whole New Lesson

I saw my first snowfall on Thanksgiving Day, and I was inexperienced.  But I was also unafraid to try. I knew that I had mastered a clutch and manual transmission.  I just needed to try it a few times – practice.  Luckily, I lived in a small town, population of about 19,000.  The roads were never crowded and there were plenty of bare highways through cornfields on which to learn.  Sure, there was the occasional icy spin-out and snowbank stop, but I learned valuable lessons in those moments of terror.  Try.  And then keep trying.

Setting Aside Fear

Learning a new skill can be difficult.  Setting aside the fear of “It’s too hard” and the unreasonable “I can’t” is a must.  “I think I can,” said the little engine that could, and he did.  Every single day, we have to the opportunity to learn how to do something new or do something the old way, only better.  Drop the fear.  Build your steam and get it done.  It may appear insurmountable from the base, but a mountain seems less monumental when you are halfway up.  Interesting side effect from all that climbing?  Added strength.  Funny how that works.


by Rayanne Thorn





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  1. Fear does hold us back. When you do what you have to do, you often realize that your fears were baseless. It’s funny you should mention driving a stick shift because my first car was a stick shift vehicle. I had some embarassing moments. Life is about progression. To keep moving is of vital importance. Fear can’t stand in the way.

    Henry Motyka |

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