Automatic vs Standard

There is no versus in this subject!

Standard ShiftingI am talking about automobile transmissions, of course. When I was young, I suppose, an automatic was a fairly new thing. I do not remember us having a car with one until the 1971 Plymouth Satellite station wagon. The 64 Ford Custom, and the 61 Ford Falcon, and probably every other ancillary auto owned by the Gurley’s was a “Standard”…

In fact, I can see my dad shifting just about every car we owned, in my mind!

So, when it came time for this young lad to be interested in driving, dad would sit us in his lap and work the pedals and the shifting while we controlled the direction of the steering wheel. The older we got, and the taller we stood, dad would slowly let us take over first the shifting, and then finally the pedal control.

In other words, the more experienced we became, then the more control was given. Until there came a time for him to sit next to us as we drove down the back highways to the country on a visit to family.

When the time was right, then he would sit totally in the passenger seat allowing us complete control…

I remember sitting next to him, practicing the shifting, and I remember being allowed to practice driving in the drive-way – forward, and reverse, and all over again – driving the length of the drive.

Practice, practice, practice.

Other than the rules of the road, it was almost a given that we would pass our driving test!

Only, it was not just dad teaching. It was also mom. The better we became at driving, she would let me take her on a drive through Houston. Some nights we were gone for 2-3 hours, driving wherever I wanted – down the freeways, around the loop, through downtown – all the time learning how to drive without the stress of a crowded road.

I woke at 3am this morning with some deep thoughts on my mind and this example of life sort of popped into my thinking cap. How often are we doing the exact same thing on various portions of our life and living? We are given incremental control to something until the time is right to do it completely alone.

At times it seems that we are living on automatic and not being in control as a standard can give you…

It’s like the time I learned to fly. After a few hours of practice with the instructor… Listen… It was just a FEW HOURS…. When Wes felt I was ready, he had me park by the tower control and then I flew 3 patterns of “Stop and Go’s” which was taking off, flying the rectangle pattern of the flight path, and then successfully landing the plane to a full stop on the runway, then powering back up and do it all over again.

The strangest feelings came over me when I was first allowed by an instructor to take the car and plane out by myself. Alone. Totally responsible.

There was no automatic movement to everything that needed to be done, from shifting without grinding the gears, or successfully putting the plane down properly on the runway. Nothing was automatic. There was a lot of standard actions done! Keep your head on a swivel, look out for the other car/plane! Watch your speed! Keep your separation! Remember your appropriate actions and reactions to every scenario.

Now, practice, practice, practice!

Some people never get out of the garage/hanger…. They are strangled  by the feeling of stepping out and failing. But part of learning allows for you to train and understand the “what if’s”. For example, with flying it was getting into an empty area, with enough ground separation, and practicing stalling the airplane. Essentially, you aim for the stars, and with the reduction of power, you allow the air to become unsettled over the top of the wings so the plane loses it’s ability to fly. It will then plummet to the ground. Unless you are trained on responding to this situation.

“A landing is nothing more than a controlled fall out of the sky.” ~Wes, my flight instructor

Crashing a car or a plane can have disastrous results, so you practice on not getting into this position!

Life is full of similar examples on how to do something successful, and then learning what to do when things do not match the plan!

As we move into and through this new year, I have some things I need to take out of automatic, and put back into standard mode, and re-learn… Better still, there are some things that I need to take more control of than just cruising through in an automatic mode that it seems I have been doing!

I am praying for a differently successful year than just flying through it on automatic… I want to be in better control of certain aspects than I have ever thought to be…. How about you?


2 thoughts on “Automatic vs Standard

  1. Thoroughly agree. Even approaching eighty, adjustments are made to deal with this point in time. Enjoyed the post and, by the way, reminders of the need for flexibility in this life.


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