You know that heart-stopping fear that fills you with ice water when you're driving along, and suddenly you find yourself in a skid? Your car fish-tails back and forth, back and forth, spitting gravel or spinning on ice and visions of a rather messy and imminent death race through your mind.
Your stomach flips as adrenalin floods your taut body. You grip the wheel in white-knuckled terror, and you wonder if your mouth is really filled with cotton balls all of a sudden.
Those seconds hang like years, and you're sure you've lost a few off your life after this too-close-call that leaves you shaken and trembling at the side of the road.
Growing up in Western Canada where the weather can be brutal and extreme, I learned how to drive in some pretty vicious conditions. There's nothing like plowing through tons of snow on several inches of solid ice, with a raging snowstorm obscuring your vision - by night.
Many of Canada's country roads are gravel, which can send you into a nasty skid and land you in the ditch in as big a hurry as that ice under your wheels will do.
What makes it worse is the instinct that some people have to crank the steering wheel into the direction of the skid. A big no-no! And on top of that, some people find themselves staring at whatever they're trying to avoid. Another vehicle, a wall, a sharp embankment that drops off and will send them plummeting below and into a raging river... And whatever they're seeing is where they are heading.
I "came out of the chute" in the middle of a sharp skid, born to a frightened young teen and after a time was taken from her and adopted into yet another skid. Much of my life was spent fish-tailing back and forth, back and forth, every heart-stopping moment spent cranking the wheel hard in the opposite direction of that skid, and doing my best to stay focused on the road, and not on the ditch, the wall - or too many times, the cliff above the river.
I was not always successful. In fact, I was very unsuccessful on far too many occasions for far too many years.
With the passage of time and continued practice and focus, the skids are now a lot fewer and farther in between. They don't usually land me in the ditch any more either, because I've learned to stay focused on the road.
And if you don't already know how to do it, you can learn, too.