I was reflecting on learning to drive the other day and it was so vivid. Sitting in the big white suburban, we had at the time, in the evening after dusk. Slowly getting buckled into the driver seat. Not for the first time. I had buckled myself into this seat plenty of times. However, never before did I have the keys in hand, mother in the passenger seat, and any intention of driving anywhere.

So I started it up, pressed my foot deep into the brake, shifted into ‘Drive’ and exchanged the brake for gas.

Then immediately SLAMMED back on the brake. Heart pumping. Hands shaking.
And again, exchanged the brake for the gas, was surprised by forward momentum and hopped back on the brake. After a few more exchanges like this I became accustomed to the feeling of initiating acceleration. Within twenty minutes, I felt like a pro.

According to the movies, most everyone’s first driving experience is something like this. Jerky-Jerky where the surprise of initiating acceleration is jolting enough to bring the whole operation to an immediate stop. And eventually, I learned the degrees of separation between where I tilt my foot for 10 miles an hour versus 20 miles an hour versus 30 miles an hour.

How much different is learning anything in life? I try something new, a reaction occurs, and I slam the brakes on the reaction. Examine the reaction, process the net result, assess how to do it again, and try again.

Since then, I have had an innumerable quantity of successful drives with no significant details to be reported. I have also had a few opportunities to interface with local authorities on behalf of my bad driving. And there has been a couple times my experience as a driver has kept me alive as I was dodging pets, wildlife, and navigating icy terrain.

Ultimately, learning to play an instrument or teaching myself any skill worthwhile will have many of these same moments. When I do it right, nothing of note, simply continuing to do it right and hone my skill. When I do it wrong someone will point out my error and I will learn from my mistake and potentially pay a price, preferably not too high. And there will even be a few times my experience will save me from crashing and burning.

Learning something new will have these moments of doing it right and doing it wrong. I will never experience any of successes or failures if I do not get past the herky–jerky of it all. Getting past the first few times will pave the way for a million times more.

Is there something new you are trying to work through? What is the uncomfortable herky–jerky of what you are doing? What is the next step to get through the herky–jerky for you?