Gaining control by giving up control

ST-gateAs I drive along the rural road approaching my laneway, I typically drive slowly if for no other reason than physically slowing down helps to mentally slow down as I arrive home. On this particular day, with snow and some ice on the road, I was going a little slower than usual as I came upon the gate that marks the laneway entrance. But I must have still needed to use some brake and as I started to make the turn as I found myself in a slow skid and heading toward the right side gatepost. On a direct course for the gatepost, the natural first thought is that you want to stop, or turn. But of course on an icy road the brakes are just locking the wheels so, paradoxically, the way to regain some steering control is to back off the brakes. If the wheels are not turning it is not possible to steer and physics dictates that you will just keep traveling in a straight line. And in this case that straight line was heading right toward the post.

I’ve learned from motorcycling (thankfully not the hard way!) that acceleration and braking both reduce available traction… which, when combined with steering (turning “off course” requires more traction than going in a straight line), can result in a complete loss of traction, which is what we call a skid. So, anyhow, somehow all very quickly, I took my foot off the brake, got steering control back, and readily avoided the gatepost. It was giving up one type of control to regain another type of control.

Labyrinth walking also involves ceding control. In this case, it’s a matter of there only being one path to follow, and it’s going to take you to one place. We’re used to the notion of having control, which often comes from analyzing information and making choices, but there is no need for such a thing during the time you may grant yourself in a labyrinth. Once you genuinely give up control, you may find it is quite a relief.

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