The street was narrow. Parked cars right beside us and a cement divider running down the entire length of the roadway to my left. On the other side of this divider were two very narrow lanes with a yellow line in the middle-a two-way bike path.

At the end of the block, a green circle sign with a black arrow in the middle forces me to turn right only.

It was complicated. I search for other signage for others entering the same intersection from all different directions, knowing my driving instructor will ask.

But just before we get to the corner, my brain fills with a fire engine siren. Where is it? Where is it?

Everything in my brain disappeared as panic takes hold.

WHERE IS THE FIRE TRUCK?

During this blackout, my instructor moved us to the right side of the roadway.

Calm returned within 2 minutes. Finally, I could hear again.

He was silent. It seemed all the chaos was inside my brain.

And then something miraculous happened.

My instructor has observed me for several hours. After failing the ICBC driving tests three times already and having persisted at this very uncomfortable, scary, overwhelming task of learning to drive, he was my third instructor.

But this instructor was must calmer than all the others. It seems he listened more, remaining very quiet at times. But today, he voiced a huge discovery, which I think will change my life.

I have watched you struggle with driving for a long time now. I want to understand what you see compared to what I think I see, because we are both looking at your struggle from two different perspectives. We both face the same battle. Agree?

I agree.

“OK. I see that you process a massive amount of information, a vast colossal awareness far more significant, far more specific and detailed over an extensive range and distance in all directions while you are here in the car.”

Yes, of course, I state. It’s scary. I don’t want to hurt anyone.

“This awareness is enormous,” as he draws a small black dot on the paper with a large circle touching the otter edge of the page.”If I could get my driving instructors to think like this, to be this aware, it would be amazing!

But you know it’s a lot of information to process. In fact, it can be overwhelming and certainly exhausting to try and keep up with it all of this while we drive.”

Yes, I gasp, knowing that when I leave these 90-minute drives, wet from sweat, I often immediately take a nap right after.

“So let’s call this awareness 1000 because it’s big. And let’s call the last right turn 3, because you must do three core things to turn the right turn.

  1. right-side blind spot check
  2. the rear mirror to ensure you yield to upcoming bikers on your right and sidewalk pedestrians on your right.
  3. and scan the pedestrian crossing, running the same direction as us because we turn right and cross their crosswalk. We must yield to them.

In a much smaller circle around my car, turning right, he writes the number 3.

In the outer part, the 1000, he erases it and writes 997.

“So I think your challenge is not the 3. You know the three things you must do. But you often struggle with the three because you are busy doing the 996!”

“That fire engine was 4, 5 or 6 blocks away from us, but you were totally on the hunt for it. There was zero space nor time to think about the core 3!”

“So your challenge is not to learn the driving three requirements. Your challenge is to SHUT OUT the 996!”

WOW! YES! EXACTLY! EXACTLY! EXACTLY! Wow, yes, I agree that’s what I experience when driving! It’s overwhelming!

“OK.

So here’s what we are going to do!

For the next 20 minutes, for the first time in over two years, we repeatedly performed an exercise that allowed me to drive the car with focus! With the focus for the first time! It was amazing! I was in shock! 

Stop the 996! Do the 3! 

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Materials presented here are for education purposes only referencing two ICBC materials,Tuning Up Drivers Manual, Learn To Drive Right Manual, training material from the 3 week Driving Instructors Licensing Program and amterials from the GLP classroom certificate Program.

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