Halt Or My Mom Will Text
The photograph above is true. The names are being revealed to protect the opportunity to shift.
Background: My mother is 86! She’s a retired educator who found her way teaching reading at the elementary school level.
For Thanksgiving this year, we decided as a family to eat out. It started post Dad, the turkey junkie of the family, and it’s brought a new tradition to carry us forward. “Mom, go ahead and make the reservation.” With her iPhone 12 in plain sight, my mother, a one-time educator of the year, grabs the Yellow Pages! How is that even possible? Well, she’s probably the only person I know who doesn’t just chuck that book into the trash when she finds it out front on her driveway each year. It was a hysterical, and curious moment to behold. I quickly grabbed my competing iPhone 12 and snapped this photo to prove a point. No, not to make fun of my mom, and, although it was very funny, there’s a difference.
My point was to notice that we live in a world where things shift constantly and at high speeds that sometimes are too much for a given moment. It’s a big confusing place and if something in our world doesn’t fit, we can make alterations. The question is at what speed is it best to make these alterations?
Now, my mom can text like a champ. It’s her opportunity to connect with me when I’m not available live. Her email has become dormant and if she still had a VCR I’m convinced it would be blinking 12:00AM. 12:00AM. 12:00AM…
Indeed, she can make alterations.She can shift.
Well, human beings, as you may have heard, must move forward. To stand still is to die. We don’t have to eat the hippo all at once either. Shifts can be small, and be just enough to keep going in a purposeful direction. Speaking of shifts, it wasn’t my father who was able to solve my inability to grasp the fine art of driving a stick shift. It was my mom.
I remember driving our 1978 Isuzu Opel 5-speed into town with mom in the front seat, and my brothers Mike and Alexandre (he was our exchange student for a year, and still is thought of as our brother) in the back. Low and behold, while I’m at the wheel, approaching the corner of Bridge and Liberty, there it was: the spectre of a street light strategically placed at the top of the hill. This particular street light had an uncanny ability to trap me whenever I drove the 5-speed. It was a tractor beam of humiliation. And today was no different. As I approached the light, clearly turning red, I wondered if there was someone in a house within view who carried the switch to it? Hiding a secret grudge?? When the light turned green, I managed to stall the car as I always did on that hill. Dammit! With Mike and Al snickering and my temper beginning to boil, I was clumsily attempting with no success to get that car moving. Finally, having enough of it all, the testosterone of a 16-year-old broke the scene wide open. I opened the driver’s side door, stormed out into traffic and stood in front of the passenger side demanding my mom drive this breaker of men. I had had enough. She changed seats and scolded me for being dangerous. We got home and she told me that tomorrow she was taking me out in that car and we were going to solve this problem together. Yeah right.
The next day we drove to a hill in a neighborhood that didn’t have a lot of traffic. On the way she told me about a hill that always vexed her when she was learning to drive. Back then all cars were pretty much manual (or standard) transmission. You want to drive? You learn the stick. She said that she figured out that if you pressed the gas a lot more while holding the clutch in, then releasing it slowly she could initiate forward movement. Small movement forward. And the car would climb the hill.
I protested. I said that dad told me it had to be more elegant. You must execute a delicate maneuver where gas was depressed and the clutch was released in a more even fashion or one would burn out the clutch. A costly repair in the depressed ‘70s. She laughed and replied “How’s that been going for you? Your father is right, you will get the hang of this in time. For now, try things my way. See how it works for you. You can be elegant later.” And she was right. It worked like a champ. And pretty quickly I did become more elegant with shifting. Years later, whether it was fast cars and motorcycles, I feared neither because I learned a new way to drive.
So, small movements can get you big results over time. Change doesn’t have to be overwhelming! I remember when mom struggled with texting. So in the end it’s like this: if I can text my mom to make dinner reservations so we can enjoy a night out and she confirms after she uses the Yellow Pages and calls to set them, it’s a win for now. I do think she’s ready for Open Table or even Resy! I really do. I’m ready to be there for her when she’s ready to make that next small shift to dining out greatness. And while it’s certainly more elegant, it’s also important to remember that it doesn’t change the way the food tastes once you get there. It’s her hill to climb, I can’t wait to change seats with her.
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