…and then the joy of achievement –
Our brains tend to whirl round like very loud extractor fans, or even hamster wheels, don’t they? We live with almost-constant noise blasting inside our craniums as the inner Higher Self battles it out with the Lower, the Censor and the Frightener!
Since my motorway moment the other day, the last of that tiresome trio has been in particularly strident voice, insisting that my courage was a fluke; that I’d never be able to do it again; that I’d get lost, have a panic attack or be caught in a twenty mile tail-back!
So, when my friend’s daughter rang on the doorbell at elevenish this morning, and asked if we could repeat the Village to Pill round trip, my initial feeling was a strong desire to say, ‘No way!’ and close the door in her face. Not, I hasten to add, because I had any objection to helping; no – this was because I had semi-convinced myself that the phobia was just waiting for my guard to fall before leaping in twice as ferocious as before.
The mental chittering started in earnest – and then, suddenly, it was as if a plug was pulled! Blessed silence reigned, rained and, as you might say, unreined! I crossed the road (the friend is a close neighbour), rapped imperiously upon the door and, hoicking said neighbourly offspring out, said, ‘Right! Let’s go, Kiddo!’
The drive itself was no problem – and the small moment of Ali being Directionally Challenged once off the motorway resolved itself almost immediately, with only the one slightly pissed-off lorry driver (who was going far too fast anyway!) to show for it!
When I swept back on again, post Pill perambulation, the whole thing felt almost natural! This, despite the fact that the motorway was much busier than it had been on Saturday!
But the really interesting thing was this: The whole journey was spent in almost complete mental silence. I just let my physical driving ability, and the instincts honed by twenty-seven years on the road, take over.
It was NOT a fluke the first time!
But then, I may not, as yet, have told you how my motorway experiences started, way back in December 1988 (one month after I passed my test!). Never being one to do things by halves, I did not take a quick spin down the M5 to Clevedon and back – as any sensible driver would have done! Oh, no, not me: I went from nil experience to a five hour drive (including the dreaded M25) to Cambridge to visit a sibling! Bloody daft!
On that trip, being still a smoker in those days, I got through at least twenty Silk Cut, and I won’t say how many bars of chocolate!
I am thrilled to pieces – and my, ‘Yes! Yay! Wow!’ was about as far from silence as you can get!
Courage is not lack of fear. It is silencing the Inner Frightener sufficiently to get on and do things anyway!