The Art of the Brake

Last week, my oldest daughter took her drivers permit test.  Unfortunately, she passed.

And its not that I’m not looking forward to her driving.  I’m just not looking forward to her growing up. But alas, that’s the aching plight of every parent, isn’t it?

The driving part I’m actually cool with.  I like the sight of her behind a wheel.  Mostly because I know how huge a life step this is for her and her excitement to take that step.  And I’m laid back enough to actually both enjoy the journey of teaching a teen to drive and hopefully also help to set her at ease as well.

The other night I took her to the biggest, emptiest parking lot I could find. We filled it with imaginary cars and navigated our way through the invisible traffic.  We started off with the first-things-first checklist like seat position, mirrors, seat belt, and all that good stuff.  Then, when everything seemed to be in order, I said some pretty terrifying words: “Okay, now with your foot firmly pressing the brake, shift from park (that’s that big “P”) to drive (that’s that big “D”).  She did just that and as far as I could tell, we were both still alive.

“Okay…now slowly, ever-so-slowly, painfully slowly, I want you to slowly, real slow-like, lift your foot off of the brake pedal.”  She did and we slowly (that was on purpose) began to creep forward.  Technically speaking, my daughter was driving our car.  And yep, we were still alive.

While other parents might have instructed their new driver to move their foot to the accelerator, I did not.  Mostly because acceleration was something I was entirely disinterested in at that moment. Instead, and after a long journey of 10-15 feet I said, “Okay…now slowly apply pressure to the brake pedal.”  With the slightest jolt, we came to an immediate stop.  And so we tried again: release the brake, apply the brake…release the brake, apply the brake.  Its not that I was afraid of the gas pedal, its just that my priority for teaching my daughter how to drive was to first get her to learn the art of the brake.

We’ve lost that art form in our culture today.  We seem to constantly be full-throttle, never-stop, ever-faster, and busier-is-better.  But from what I can tell, we’re reaping exactly what we’ve sown. We’re burnt out, we’re worn thin, we’re frayed inside and out, we’re impatient, we’re irritable, we’re self-centered, and we’re unrested.  We’ve lost the art of the brake.

Where are your heart, mind, or emotions thread-bare today?  Where is rest a forgotten art form?  While your defense mechanism might throw up the wall of “things just have to be this way” or “I’m just going with the flow of traffic”, let me challenge you to look deeper than defenses.  Look to where you lost the brakes and find a way to regain your ability to come to a full and complete stop.

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3 thoughts on “The Art of the Brake

  1. Great reminder, bud! I know that I am guilty of wanting to get “there” faster and then wondering why. Thanks for the good word!

    • Thanks Candice! Got a newsletter from you and Alex yesterday. Looking forward to sitting down with a hot beverage and reading it.

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