How Learning to Drive Stick Got Me Unstuck

Carston Knox was in his 40s when driving lessons gave him the chance to relate to his automatic behaviors in a new way.

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I remember vividly the days when I first learned to drive. The sheer terror. I carried the responsibility of a two-ton death machine with me every moment I was in the car. All the dials, levers, and pedals I needed to focus on to make the thing go, to get me from Point A to Point B.

And how quickly it became rote. The exhilaration of driving quickly dwindled. Now, with thousands of miles of road behind me, I just put that sucker into drive and away I go. It’s totally thoughtless, to the point where I can now drive somewhere and forget how I got there, distracted by whatever is going on in my head.

Then came a birthday request from my girlfriend, who owns a car with standard transmission. After six months of playing chauffeur, Sharon wanted me to take the responsibility of getting us places.

Fair enough.

Here I am, in my 40s, learning how to drive stick. Everything’s awkward and unfamiliar. Is it possible I’m less coordinated now than I was in my 20s?