I am not an excellent driver. Fortunately for motorists and pedestrians everywhere, I live in New York City, which means I rarely–as in, never–have to drive. Don’t get me wrong: I could drive if I absolutely had to. It’s just that driving totally stresses me out.
Having grown up in Alaska, though, I was forced to drive in some pretty extreme weather, if not traffic. Young drivers in wintry places are always cautioned that, should the car hit a patch of ice and spin out of control, the best thing to do is to steer the car into the spin, not away from it. “How counterintuitive,” I thought, then promptly moved to Seattle where the roads didn’t get icy, then later to New York, where I developed love-hate relationships with the subway and cab drivers.
Well, about five years ago, I went back to Alaska for Christmas and had a date with a guy I’ll call G.I. Joe. (He was actually a Marine, but why split hairs? My point is that he was exactly the kind of person you’d want in charge if a situation–or your car–started to spin out of control.)
Returning home from an evening out on the less-than-bustling town of Anchorage, G.I. Joe’s SUV hit a patch of ice. While I panicked inwardly, G.I. Joe remained calm. He did exactly what the drivers’ manual says to do: he turned toward the spin, letting the laws of physics work their magic. The SUV corrected its course and no humans (or moose) were harmed.
Fast forward to today: I’m running from a morning rehearsal to a piano lesson to the library to my restaurant job, feeling very much like I’m spinning out of control. But somewhere between my fourth subway ride and losing my mind, I remembered the drivers’ manual: when you feel yourself spinning out of control, don’t fight it. Turn toward it.
We only really spin out of control when we tense up and react against our circumstances. When we allow ourselves to move with the chaos, our situation resolves itself naturally.