I was riding in our daughter's van the other day, sitting beside Caroline. Rachel wanted to demonstrate Caroline's intelligence (as if I needed a demonstration of what is obviously above normal!), so she was asking her some questions.
"Caroline, what is in your head?" Caroline didn't even pause. "A skull," she said.
"And Caroline, what else is in your head?" Caroline quickly answered, "A brain."
"And Caroline, what does a brain help you do?" Caroline thought for the briefest of seconds, then smiled. "It helps you think...about music and clappin'!" Then she laughed and applauded herself.
Ah, yes. Helps you think. Sometimes we do things by rote because we have always done them that way, not stopping to think that there may be a better and more efficient method out there.
My drive to the hospital where I work is all uphill, and the return trip home is all downhill. The distance is only a few long blocks. Yesterday I was thinking about the high price of gasoline, reviewing ways I could get better mileage, and I had a brilliant idea. I decided to experiment with the drive home. I pressed the gas pedal once to get started out of my parking space, and once more to get through the parking lot. I inched up over a little incline, then coasted down to the street to turn right. Since I had to stop at that point, I had to press the accelerator one more time to start down the street. I then coasted to the next turn, braked slightly to turn right and coasted down that street. The car slowed, then reached a downward incline in which it sped up again, over a short elevated area, then downhill again where I gained speed again. I braked just enough to turn left, then coasted to my driveway all downhill. I turned into my driveway, still without using the accelerator, and braked to enter my garage.
I drive that little drive every day, yet, knowing that it was downhill, I never thought of easing off the gas pedal and just coasting. Now I'm challenging myself to press the accelerator the least amount of times to get home and let gravity do most of the work. It makes me feel like a ball at the putt-putt golf course, trying to gain enough momentum to get over the little bumps, then using gravity to keep the car going until it lands in the garage. Such a simple idea; why haven't I thought of it before?
Having a brain is great. Actually using it - priceless!