Twenty Five Minutes

I have been driving now since the last ten years. But I can safely say I take no pleasure in it. My only intention to learn to drive was to get from point A to point B. My complete lack of sense of direction, coupled with a fear of getting well and truly lost has made me stick to the known destinations. I have become, over a decade of driving, what you would call a point-to-point driver.

My comfort zones are from home to work and back, from home to a couple of shopping malls and back, from home to the beautician and back, from home to the gym and back. Anything outside this comfort zone warrants a visit with the husband.

In fact, I am so directionally challenged that once I took a wrong turn on the way home and I was so disoriented with my unfamiliar surroundings that I called my husband in a wave of panic and he had to patiently guide me home amid a conversation involving blood, sweat and tears. Ok, it was just tears. But you get the idea!

I know what you are thinking. We’ve all heard this one before. Just fit the car with GPS, or use an app on the mobile that tells you when to turn in what direction. What’s the big fuss all about? Honestly!

Well, the “big fuss” for me lies in the fact that I am not able to fit a GPS into my hand-eye coordination when driving a car. I can’t add my ear to the already existing perfect symphony between hand and eye.

At least I couldn’t until two weeks back.
Over lunch at work, which is usually more of an opportunity for female colleagues to catch up on each other’s’ lives and the latest in food, clothes, shoes, directions… you get the picture… one of my colleagues couldn’t stop talking about how liberated she was feeling lately. All thanks to overcoming her reluctance to using a GPS software while driving. She had managed to conquer her fear and rely on that silky smooth disembodied voice to tell her when to turn left, when to turn right and when to let her know she had arrived at her destination.

My interest was piqued of course. Battling with directional demons of my own, I had reached an impasse. It was getting increasingly frustrating when there was a sale at one of the malls I wouldn’t drive myself to, just because I didn’t know the precise directions to that mall. And my husband gleefully enjoyed my discomfort. After all, it meant I wasn’t going to be able to spend on a bunch of whatever was on sale that had caught my eye.

I’m not sure if it was my own frustration or my husband’s glee that did it. But one fine day, I decided to go to the gym – using GPS and not my own sense of direction. The disembodied voice came alive at each turning point (mine or the road’s? I couldn’t tell!). For the first time in my life I experienced the very weird sensation of being in the driver’s seat and not being in control at the same time. I was trusting that ghost of a voice to figure out where I needed to go and tell me how to get there.

She was gentle. It was as if she knew it was my first time. It was a short distance that took about twenty-five minutes on an average traffic day to cover. But that day to me felt like how the first man on the moon felt – a small leap for GPS woman, a giant leap for me!

I was pleasantly surprised to discover she took me on an alternate route that bypassed all the construction work that almost always held me up and delayed my arrival to the gym. It was almost like she knew my personality and my aversion to driving on six-lane highways at high speeds. She took me off the highway as soon as was humanly (or electronically) possible, and kept me on the kind of roads I liked to drive on.

I arrived at my destination with a smile on my face, pleasantly surprised at how fulfilling this experience was. It was barely twenty-five minutes I spent with her. But she taught me a very big lesson. I needed to trust, I needed to open up to the possibility of different options to arrive at the goals I had set for myself.

Most importantly, she taught me that in order to be in control of your life, sometimes you have to let go of control.

Leave a Reply