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Driving: Getting Our Focus Where It Needs to Be

November 12, 2022

Another Way for week of November 4, 2022

Getting Our Focus Where It Needs to Be

I was reading about athletes who approach their sport with a razor concentration that helps them be focused and aids their success. I envy that.

Think Serena Williams for one. I’ve picked a tennis player for illustration because they are able to hunch down and peer to the competition and totally focus their eyes on the opposing player, her racket, and tennis ball. A field goal kicker enjoys similar time out to kick the ball with great care with eyes absorbed on those goal posts—albeit with opposing fans yelling loudly.  

A mother helps her son get that laser focus. We hope!

An article on the BBC website called it a “quiet eye, a kind of enhanced visual perception that allows the athlete to eliminate any distractions as they plan their next move.”

David Robson, author of the article points out that the quiet eye phenomenon becomes active especially under moments or minutes of stress for the athlete. Some athletes experience what they call a “flow state” when they can block out the audience and concentrate totally on the game.

Most of us will never be that kind of athlete but all of us would also benefit greatly in using that kind of laser focus when we drive.

Driving would be easier if it always looked like this.

Yes, drive. What is the biggest threat to your life? Heart attack? Worries about cancer? A stroke? Yes, all of these are possible bad curves in life’s road but what do most of us take risks with every day of our lives? What is worth paying more attention to if we want to live long and happy lives with our family and friends?

Keeping a razor focus when we are driving. Especially if we are beginners and definitely as we age.

Okay, most of us, young and old, do what we shouldn’t do: we may risk an occasional text while waiting at a stoplight, glance at GPS directions, talk on the phone, drink coffee, change radio stations, and let our minds wander to everything imaginable. And we take our own lives and those of others into our own hands.

Not my favorite place to drive.

I wrote about this topic years ago (while my mother was still living) and suggested an idea that had popped into my head, and that is to perhaps use driving time to pray for our neighbors as we go by their homes. My mother called me up short on that one, writing me a letter exclaiming that she needs to use all her focus on driving. She was absolutely right. Our focus should be on our driving—especially as we get older.

That was good advice from Mom. I always remember Dad’s advice too to keep a roving eye on the rearview mirror, the side mirrors, and of course the vehicles in front of you.

Think about it: What is the biggest threat to your life? What do most of us take risks with every day of our lives? Our vehicles! Including the increasing numbers of bicycles—and bicycle lanes—on our highways.

Which brings me to another point. We live on a lovely back road complete with hills that challenge a cyclist and also thrill them when they get to the top for an exhilarating ride downhill. Friends often cycle together and even side by side, sometimes waiting far too long to drop back and ride single file while a motorist tries to navigate curves and hills and oncoming traffic. Yes, car drivers need to keep all of us safe by observing posted rules and bike lanes, and practice much patience while waiting for an opportunity to pass. But blessed are the cyclists who do not travel side by side unless they are very sure the road is empty of motorists. I used to walk on back roads and would always stop my hike, get off the macadam, and wait while cars passed, for my safety and theirs.

In the weeks ahead as we may be driving and thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas plans and all there is to do, let’s also focus on the drivers and pedestrians around us and prayerfully keep everyone safer and saner. And please for your own good and ours, avoid road rage!


What works for you regarding safe driving? Tricks? Practices?

Pet peeves about drivers? Or driving?

Share here or send stories privately to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books, most recently Memoir of an Unimagined Career. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. I need an active eye driving on Jacksonville streets with cars changing lanes seemingly on a whim. I reserve my quiet eye (and laser focus) for when I try to reach the trash can with a balled up Kleenex. Not breathing, looking straight at the target, I usually hit what I’m aiming for. ;-D

    • You have such a wonderful sense of humor here–maybe Cliff rubs off on you? Thanks for this image of you trying to hit the trash can. 🙂
      And we get our fill of city driving to our daughters up in northern Virginia right outside of Wash. D.C. I love cities but increasingly traffic is, like you say, too many drivers and too much changing lanes.

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