Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Don't panic: be somebody else

"Nervousness is okay," my driving instructor told me on Monday. "It's a normal human reaction. Panic is not okay."

I thought that was a good window onto a healthy life - you can't really help nerves (I've tried) but you can function through them, perhaps even more effectively owing to the attention you give to whatever is making you nervous; panic is just paralyzing and not at all helpful.

He also pointed out that even if you don't personally need a particular skill, you can still use it to serve others. If you know how to swim, for example, you can save a life. So too with driving, helping out elderly neighbours or getting somebody to the hospital.

I like the idea of service, because you get so much more out of that than you put in.

The nerves vs. panic thing, too. It reminded me of my high school acting efforts, which were persistent if not brilliant, because I always seemed to do better with a good dose of stage fright.

I didn't try to go on with it because while I was super at memorizing lines and saying them expressively, I really, really didn't like the idea of becoming one with the character. I found it frightening not to just be myself. This isn't a problem for me with fiction, even when the character whose perspective I'm writing from is saying or doing things I find unsettling; somehow, I can spin out many different personalities through my fingers and never lose sight of me.

Unfortunately, right now it would be helpful to lose sight entirely. A Mary who doesn't worry about a thing but just gets on with it - that's what I need to be.

Instead I am being a lopsided Mary who worries at lot and creates even more potential for that by getting on with it anyway. 'It' being the booking of two appointments with two different driving instructors, one Saturday and one Sunday, both for highway driving (but both in my own car this time.)

After I did that yesterday, I went out and parallel parked perfectly on the first attempt, and then I bought groceries just to remind myself how nice it is not to have to walk them home, and when I got home I decided it's not worth all this stress just to have my license.

But I'm going to try anyway. Maybe I'm not any of those other Marys, but just my own worst enemy?

No comments: