My dad was a good teacher. I guess he was like that famous football coach who held up the football each year and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football”. Or the professor I had in nursing school who was trying to teach us what it was like to evaluate the dilation of a cervix (is it okay to bring up cervixes?), who simply said, “Students, you’re feeling for a circle. You’re trying to find a circle”. And on both the football point and the cervix point, your first thought is, “Duh”.
My dad was kind of like that in his teaching style a lot of times. Those kinds of teachers are excellent. They don’t let you miss the forest for the trees.
Learning to Drive
When my dad was teaching me how to drive, referring to the car he said, “This is a machine”. He went on to tell me to respect the machine, and that the machine is big and it’s heavy and I needed to learn to control it. And he made me turn it on and feel it run while parked (as if I’d never been even a passenger in a car before), and then he made me rev the engine, again while parked. And then he told me a piece of advice I still think about all the time. “Taylor, many accidents happen because of overcorrection. But driving is made up of thousands of tiny corrections.”
When we finally got out of the parked position and got to driving, he would say that to me time and again, in this sort of rhythmic voice as he guided me along, “Thousands of tiny corrections”. And my hands would turn the steering wheel here and there by just little millimeters, keeping the car in between the painted lines. He made me put my tires off the road onto the gravelly shoulder while driving with some speed, so that I would know what it felt like and calmly steer back onto the road. He said it’s common to drift off the road. Good drivers do it too. But inexperienced drivers jolt and overcorrect and veer into lanes that aren’t theirs and get into accidents. Thousands of tiny corrections.
My friend in high school crashed because a bee flew into her car and she started swatting at it. I’m not sure if that’s applicable to thousands of tiny corrections. But somehow, I still think that if she had gotten that training, she could have managed the bee situation better.
Stay on the Road
In life, we’re tempted to overcorrect. To do big resets.
We’re going to temporarily homeschool next year, so I’ve been learning about that world lately. They say overhauling your curriculum choice is tempting when things aren’t quite working. But usually that’s not necessary, or really even the cause of your discontent. A few minor changes, a different or more graceful perspective, cutting out one task, or a deep breath can sometimes be the wise thing.
If it’s even necessary to state this, I’ll go ahead and do it: when a child runs in front of your car, a thousand tiny corrections won’t cut it; we’ve got to slam on the brakes! And so it is sometimes in life. God sometimes invites us to take a risk, trust Him for something big, make a radical change. And we ought to respond to His leading!
But I’ve been thinking about a thousand tiny corrections lately. Maybe I just miss my dad. But it keeps coming up for me. Because in between the big major life landmarks, it’s the little things that make up our day, our life. And, of course, that’s been true in our work here, too. The vision of starting a business in North India, the making it come to be, and some landmarks along the way, have been big and crucial. But minor corrections have been just as formative. Benign staffing rearrangements. Meeting again to remind ourselves what we value and why we do things. Praying for each other in the in between moments. Naming roles. Stopping doing something that had been done for a while. It could be anything, really. Anything that keeps you on the road, in between the lanes, running the race that is marked out for you. A thousand tiny corrections.