Aim High in Steering


I nervously shut the driver’s side door and felt trapped behind the wheel the first time my dad tried to teach me to drive a car. Four years later I would learn the most important lesson of my life. I had a problem that first day though. My problem was that I was looking at the road as close to the front of the car as I could. That seemed to be the most crucial place to look. Right there where the rubber meets the road. If I could have seen under the car I’m sure I would’ve summoned all my concentration on that area. My driving was terrible. My dad said I was all over the road. And he was right.

Four years later I took Drivers Ed in high school. The instructor introduced a concept I had not been exposed to before. He said, “Aim high in steering. If you look way up at the horizon where the road converges or goes over a hill, you will automatically see all of the rest of the road between here and there. You’ll drive nice and straight.” And he was right.

Now I use that phrase to help me live my everyday life. Instead of looking at right where I am, as close as I can get to my current circumstances, I aim high in steering. Of course, in order for this kind of thinking to benefit us, we first have to realize we actually are in the driver’s seat. We have control of how those circumstances evolve. Every thought, word, and deed leads to what’s coming next. I’ve had dreams where I’m sitting in the back seat of a car having an exciting conversation with someone, I look up and no one is driving the car. I usually get a small pang of panic at that point in the dream. So let’s admit, we are in the driver’s seat and we are indeed driving our lives.

The excitement reigns when we realize that the current circumstances we are living out are a product of all our thoughts, words, and deeds up to that point. At the point we are looking around us and noticing how things are, nothing is changeable. It’s already been made manifest. So we are looking too close to the car and our lives are swerving all over the road! Look further ahead. Use that reality generator called your imagination and imagine how you’d like it to be. Spend time in reverie. Daydream. Now you’re aiming higher. Now you’ve got your eye on the prize and no matter how far up ahead on the horizon it is, if you keep aiming there, you’ll get there. And you’ll enjoy the ride.

Just think, by merely utilizing our imagination we can drive our lives more efficiently and arrive at places we really want to go. By ignoring the use of our imagination and just letting everything run on default, we live a much more haphazard life (dangerous to ourselves and others) and maybe even miss out on destinations we were hoping to include on this trip. I just love knowing that!

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On Deck

There is a place in baseball where the next batter stands and gets ready to step up to bat when his turn comes. That person is said to be “on deck”.

We experience different thoughts all day long and those thoughts, which affect our mood, can either come randomly, or we can have a hand in creating them.

An interesting way of changing or creating a mood for yourself is to imagine a scenario. If you’ve never played baseball before, please forgive the metaphor. But if you have, then you know what it feels like to be on deck.

You’re stepping up because you’re about to do something to help the team (at least that’s your hope). Maybe you’re about to experience exhilarating glory by hitting the ball way out of the park. Or maybe you’re about to suffer a shameful embarrassment by hitting a pop fly and causing another “out” for your team. But there’s no turning back now. You’re on deck!

If you’ve been procrastinating on a project that you’d really like to see happen, no need to jump out there where all the fear of failure is. Just step on deck. Get ready. The readier you are, the more confident you feel about stepping up to bat. Stay on deck as long as you need to, but notice the difference between the way you feel when you are successfully procrastinating (doing nothing toward your goal) and when you actually step on deck. BIG difference!

The Brink

I remember the three and a half mile hikes we used to take down into Feather Falls… all the way down hill. When you came to the overlook, a large wooden deck placing you just over the edge of the canyon so you could witness the Feather River plunge to the rock floor 640 feet below, there was a secret.  If you did not turn left to walk out onto the overlook, there was a secret trail to the right. No one knew it was there because it began three feet higher up a hill than the ground of the standard trail, obscured by bushes and long dry weeds.

When you clamored up that first impossible step, the trail went on and as you walked you’d see signs—warning signs that read: Caution, Brink of Falls! Stay behind the Fence! And sure enough there was an eight foot tall chain-link fence erected long enough ago that the rust had set in and it was no longer (if ever) a pretty sight. But the brave and the anarchist hikers who came before us saw fit to take bolt cutters to many of the fence’s weak points and cut wide gates to freedom. So those of us with whatever gusto it takes, could go right up to the brink of the falls. From there, the roar was deafening. But I found an even better secret.

If one were to hike up the river, just around the next bend, one would come across a fallen tree. A giant of a fir tree that had plummeted straight across the river who knows how many centuries ago. But it still had its bark, petrified somewhat by the weather and it was a wide and welcoming bridge to the other side of the river.

Once you crossed this mammoth tree-bridge, you were free to explore a land that many have never set foot upon.

Turning left and heading back toward the brink of the falls, there was an unusual rock formation. It was the peak of the hill and from the ground it rose up about ten feet from the trail. Half way up, a solid rock slice of bread (or so it appeared) was slightly removed from the mother rock, like a piece of toast sticking out of a sideways toaster. Behind this slice of stone where it used to be connected to the mother rock, was a one foot by two foot hole from one side of the pyre to the other. This produced a shelf where the rock had slid out a little bit over the canyon. It was possible to step up onto this rock, take seat and dangle your feet over the edge. It was the best seat in the house.

Looking to your left you’d witness 4,000 cubic feet of water per second from the Feather River fly out over the brink of the falls and down to the canyon floor. At about the eleven o’clock position you could see the observation deck and all the tiny tourists marveling at the site just to your left. And straight out westward you’d see the canyon stretch for miles, the river winding its way thru the gorge which sliced through the Sierra Nevada mountains eons ago.

Here’s what I’ve learned from those trips to the brink of the falls; this feeling of nearing the brink, which contains a large measure of anticipation, readiness, and pure adventure is a valuable feeling. It is a feeling you can bring to bear on any one of life’s many situations. It is a state of being. The first time I ventured up onto that secret trail, I had no idea what lie before me. I anticipated something big and very possibly dangerous. The closer I got to the brink of the falls the more excited I got to see what was there, to take in the sights and the smells and the sounds of all Nature’s fury as an entire river came rushing off a precipice and fell through mid-air only to crash on the rocks below and continue its journey toward the sea.

Sometimes we can get in touch with that feeling of excitement and adventure without the hike to the falls. We can feel that way about a project we are about to embark upon.

“The state of mind revered most by the Muse is a mind filled to the brim with notions of adventure.”

Just imagine the brink. Imagine nearing the brink and see what kinds of inspiration find you.

We’re On a Mission From God

One of the best lines in all the movies I’ve ever seen was delivered by Dan Aykroyd in The Blues Brothers.

“We’re on a mission from God.”

Such a powerful statement and most likely true in our lives much more often than we suspect.

But growing up Christian there were very mixed signals about uttering such words. To think of oneself as in league with God in any way was considered blasphemous. Some of us were led to believe we are far too profane to ever have a relationship with God. And I see solid evidence of the same admonition happening today. It’s like walking on eggshells when you can’t express your feelings about the relationship you have with God outside of an accepted set of phrases.

When I first read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words: “The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe? Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition, and a religion by revelation to us, and not the history of theirs?” I began to wonder if he didn’t have a very good point.

What I’m trying to say is that we, as creators, often feel compelled to create. Although I cannot claim to know, there may be a strong chance that those compulsions come directly from God. So when we’re making what we’re making, we may well be on a mission from God.

I want you to walk away convinced that it is more than okay to be on a mission from God. I want you to be able to feel it when inspiration comes barreling thru your heart and you feel that ultra-conviction to follow that inspiration and create what has been delivered to you to create. And then I want you to be able to proclaim that mission to anyone who will listen, because I believe that is exactly what’s happening. You’re on a mission from God!

Say it often. Feel it. Believe it. Even if only to yourself… we really are on a mission from God.