It is tough to find a car with a manual transmission! Everything is automatic these days. When I was a kid, we learned how to drive by shifting gears, grinding them a little as we went. Great memories of driving our 1963 Chevy Biscayne, with three on the column, are present as I look back.
Now, everything is automatic, with smooth transitions between gears and electronics to ensure the best use of resources and power.
We are getting used to the automatic, programmable stuff. When we need to look up an answer, just Google it. When we need to get a coupon, just check in with Foursquare. When we need to touch base with a friend, just message them in Facebook. It is all right there. Everything is at our fingertips!
This is where the fallacy sets in. Yes, we have easier access to many things, and our conveniences have increased exponentially. However, life still requires us to put it into gear and shift as we move.
Life is not automatic. There are no shortcuts.
Life requires effort. There are gears we need to acknowledge and engage.
First Gear: Life needs a start. We need to shift our life into gear to gain movement. Standing still means life is passing us by. We need to start doing what we are called to do… our purpose. We need to figure it out, and then begin.
Second Gear: Life needs momentum. After we start, we need to gain speed in the direction we are heading. Without shifting up, life will continue to pass us by. We need to move it up a notch in effort and pace.
Third Gear: Life needs acceleration. As we gain distance, momentum needs to be embraced and stimulated. Getting up the hills requires energy and determination. We cannot afford to rest easy; we need to push forward.
Fourth Gear: Living fully is getting closer. We feel it. We are cruising, yet there is a feeling that a little more can happen, a little more effort can be delivered. We need to press ahead to reach the next level of achievement and realization of our purpose.
Fifth Gear: Living is not cruising, but it is about getting where we know we need to go. It is not necessarily slowing down to enjoy the view. There will be downshifts and curves we need to adjust to, so we must be aware and alert to maneuver as we required.
Reverse: Living requires time to reflect, looking back at where we have been. Gaining that sense of accomplishment will keep us fueled for the haul ahead. It is more than this at times. We may need to backup because we missed our turn. We may have thought we had the right directions, but we missed a sign. It is not about stopping; it is about making adjustments and taking time to refresh, regain our sense of direction.
There is no taking the easy route. It is more than just placing the shifter on D and going. We begin from a cold start and shift gears to move things forward. There may be a little gear grinding from time-to-time, and that is okay. It is a part of the learning process. It is a part of the trying process.
Leading a life of meaning is not easy.
Leading a life where your inside is comfortable with your outside actions is tough.
Don’t look for the easy way to live life. It does not exist. You cannot Google the meaning to your life and find the answer. It takes effort and introspection.
Look for the ways to start in first gear, shift to second, and do the work.
What gear are you in? I am probably grinding my way into fourth…
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Automatic vs. Manual – Putting It in Gear
try getting out of mud or snow with a manual. Automatic beats it every time as you can quickly rock the transmission back and forth. My neighbour, when I lived in California, taught me this; and a Land-Rover insructor told me the same when teaching me to drive in the sand in Kuwait.
This article, and the analogy therein, applies only to North America. Most of the rest of the world changes gear manually.
Thanks for the comment and clarification. Appreciate it. Jon
Just as a side note, in opposition to the rest of the world, only 9% of the 3 million cars manufactured per year in Brazil are automatic…
Thanks for sharing this curious interpretation of life.
Your welcome, and thank you for the statistic. I believe that the approach Brazil is taking is the more fuel efficient way.
I have my first main car automatic ever here in the UK, and it’s a Jeep….. I must say I put it in 4 whel drive whenever the roads are even slightly wet as when you are used to the control you have in manuals there is nothing worse than an automatic gear change half way through a wet corner!!!!!!! I have driven more than a million miles in manuals from VW, Audi, Ford, Peugeot,Fiat, Triumph and prefer the control they give, I do love the laziness of the jeep though, just slobbin’ along 🙂 Love Jeeps by the way!
Gavin, Thanks for your comment. Keep moving forward! Jon
It is really interesting analogy. When I was in USA, I loved driving an automatic car.
We need to start slowly and build it up from there. In between we need to adjust the gears to get the optimal performance. I like the idea about reverse gear which is about retrospection. Very imaginative 🙂
Thanks, Ashvini, for your comments! Appreciate it! Jon
What a creative idea, Jon! 🙂
My first vehicle, 84′ Jeep Cherokee, had a manual transmission as well. When I purchased it, I hadn’t the first clue how to even get it home. My uncle drove it to my grandmother’s for me; while I sat in the passenger seat wishing I could have drove it home myself. 😀 Luckily, she lived in a rural area, and was able to jerk backward and forward as much as I wanted to until I became used to the process.
I really liked how you compared that experience with that of life. There are definitely similarities, now that you’ve bought it to our attention. Getting to second gear was always a struggle for me. Much like that experience, we get the hang of life with much practice and experience, don’t we? 🙂
Today, I’m in fourth as well. There are still some uncertainties that I are still clearing up around me, but I’m usually cruising waiting for the right time to hit 5th. As we both know, it’s all about timing.
Great share mate! This was AWESOME! Thanks for the ride! 😀
Thanks, Deeone. It is good to see that some still have grown up by using a manual transmission! Timing is important… maybe there is a timing belt post in there somewhere…. just kidding. Anyway, grateful for your comments and insights. Jon
What a great metaphor Jon. I would say I’m relatively clear on the direction these days whilst being flexible to the curves in the road and the inside is pretty well maintained and in fine order . Now I could just do with upping the gears a little because there’s no better feeling than accelerating through but with the roof down and the wind in your hair and that feeling of freedom that comes when you know you’re doing purposeful stuff!
The visual of your acceleration is wonderful! Good to shift up and do the good work. Enjoy! Thanks, Kath!
I really loved this post, Jon!
We have become a society of quick-fixes and living on auto-pilot and all around me I see people generally unhappy with life. I see many complaints, comparisons, arguments, and dissatisfaction.
Fortunately I see other people who are positively and purposefully creating a great life for themselves. And I see others who are not only creating a great life for themselves, they are engaging and inspiring others to be great, and that’s you, Jon. Thank you.
Today I’m driving in third gear. Over the past few years my goals have started to take shape as I started blogging and have faced multiple overhauls in my day job.
Job instability is stressful but I consider myself fortunate to have received the kick in the pants I needed to do something that really matters to me. I’ve been making progress and I’m on my way, but I can tell I’m relying too much on my day job for motivation and stimulation.
I’m not rushed to get where I’m going, I’ll make it there in time. And while I’m here I’m going to embrace this phase of life and enjoy it to the best of my ability. Happiness doesn’t come tomorrow, it happens today if I let it.
Have a grateful day!
Wonderful insights you have provided! The point of not being “rushed” is an important one. Although we need to have a good pace to living a purposeful life, we don’t need to just zip through to check off some box. Embracing our moments and purpose and moving forward thoughtfully and progressively are what will get us to the meaningful places.
Long and short of it is “there are no short cuts.”
I am very grateful for your insights and comments and appreciate your kind works.
Embrace the day!