It was January and spending the day in the hospital as I often did at the time had become a regular thing. Keeping my loved one company as we reflected, shared things, asking questions, and sensing each other’s needs or concerns, I didn’t imagine I’d spend a couple of minutes in the next day karting with a friend after having my mom discharged from the hospital till the next round of treatment.
Karting wasn’t something I’d have had in my bucket list, not in the next million light-years. Did I mention this is an activity I didn’t even know went by that name until it was mentioned? In fact, I imagined it’s some dangerous high-end, high adrenaline sport-I couldn’t afford in my life. There was enough going in my life to keep my heart pumping I didn’t need more speed.
We had spent a few hours in between warm conversation and interesting company trying to convince me I’ll be fine and I insisted I’ll just be a wonderful host, ‘tour guide’ even cheerleader ahem translate -(secretly and incessantly praying in my heart for their safety).
Arriving on location, I knew my mind was set. We were not having this conversation again. Yeah right…as usual I look around and begin to quietly observe and ask a couple of questions about the place it’s activities, my mind begins working as I process the information. I was seriously happy to seat by the bench and if you needed anything kept safe or to be held on to, just hand them over. Then I was asked something like ‘are you sure? Do you know you’ll have safety equipment chances you get hurt are next to nil’ Like what are the chances?
In response, my mind did it’s usual transforming the whole place into World Life Classroom 101. Curtain raiser pep talk voices in my head beginning like this: (1). Those things can’t compare to the lorry you’ve driven at the driving school packed with people at the back and you all came out in one piece as you conquered driving past the section of a road you always feared in pretty good speed too. So what’s the worst that could happen? (2). Everyone else on the track will be driving the same pint-sized car so no intimidating trailer by your side… (3). Yes, chances are all those guys heading into the track are experienced, enjoy it and live for the kicker of speed. The race is extra motivation. You are not going to get in there for the competition. Get in and I’ll show you.
So, I turned around and asked myself what exactly is my fear here? If I have done a lorry that’s a few thousand kgs I don’t know what’s here. Before I could add more pros and cons I headed straight back to the paying booth to tell them I’m on, process my ticket, and let me know the available payment channels and if anything happens, I’m having their hides. My companion turns around quickly realizes I seem to have made a decision then comes towards me to make sure this time I’m going in. Guys hadn’t even gotten into their suits yet so I still had time.
Getting into gear I looked around the guys I was going in with. We were probably 5 or so. 2 ladies rest were gentlemen. Placed somewhere front, it finally dawned no, this isn’t about a race. Not for me at least. Much as it seemed to be. Figures, I mean we had tags, a tracker, and a timer going with conditions attached.
Round one, two, ah … I lose count. Guys are seriously zooming past me, and I’m thinking you know what? Drive. Enjoy it. Focus. It’s not about the competition but driving my race. It’s about living my life, being present and conscious of others. That being conscious of others should never equal to being distracted from my path. I recall twice two of us hit the exact same spot putting both behind by a couple of seconds. At that moment, we’d sort of lost track of our own path trying to see where the other are and if they are experiencing life like we were. Did we need to compare? Or be content and move on only stopping if we truly had to help or had reached the end and yes there were people who sort of stood by the side ensuring we were safe on track available for any response.
Other times, one racer would zoom past the other, and in a moment of blindness if you passed one or two people driving ahead of them it’s almost easy to assume you were ahead and doing very well in comparison. And if you got overtaken there’s a chance you’d step on it just to catch up. How true is this in real life? I quickly realized that sometimes we let ourselves be threatened and intimidated by people who either just began or went slightly faster and are nearing the end of their races in life. Just because we might seem to be driving parallel or I overtook or got overtaken on the same track at the same period of time did not mean I was on the same round or race as the rest.
At one point, it felt as though I would be last to finish but was I? Wasn’t it more important that I finished my course, made my impact, enjoy being present than thinking damn that competitor is at the finish line already! I mean what do you expect at the finish line of life except shedding of clothes (your protective gear) i.e your body? Or whatever shedding may mean to you in your current life.
Getting off gear at the endpoint, I meet a few triumphant feelings here and there. I then walk to the ‘booth’ a man with a camera hanging around his neck approaches me and hands me two pictures and an envelope for memory. You know those photographers that seem to pop out of nowhere, they don’t ask for permission but assume that the fact that they’ve snapped away and you were in location is consent therefore when they hand you your copies telling you how beautiful you all look there, in return you hand back the necessary? All good though. To the best of my knowledge, I didn’t leave a copy behind. The ladies at ‘booth’ hand me two copies of the score sheet saying it was a tight one for a minute there. I thought oh-okay…o-kay. Interesting. And no I wasn’t last.
As we left the location part of my mind had me thinking. What If I went into that track on a competitive mind and didn’t come top? Or I didn’t challenge myself or even slowed my brain to take in the lessons I was getting with each end of a cycle? Or kept focussing on my companions? I’d sure have hit the wrong end more than once. In the end, we pretty much all did the same thing got off gear.
How about my records? Yes, it had been my first time on the track, and only one go did I have. Would that which was important be that I drove fast maybe even better than the seasoned ladies and gents on track or that I drove well? At the end of every race, there is a record of your footprints on life. The pictures and scoresheet. If presented in the end would I be proud? Or if I didn’t get a chance to see it (look back) before exiting, would I still be okay if someone after me was shown those memories? Legacies?
That I realized everyone has their own timing and yes get in shape, get in speed for sure but don’t get into comparison or competition. That, while I can learn from others and grow, I still am unique. When I later got introduced to two other interesting people that evening, commenting on our earlier experience they said, for a first-timer, I did really well. One of them wasn’t even that good first time. Genuine encouragement but in my heart, I knew one chance is all I had. One try and I had to get out of there in one piece, alive and wiser. Because, what’s life really?
Sure, these weren’t lessons I was learning for the first time. I live by these things. However, different environments expose you to different intensities and perspectives of the same. It’s been a few years down the line since the school of life brought me this lesson on a GP Racing Circuit. With every passing day, I grow older some things become more intense, I’ve had people very close to my heart shed their once earthly gear at the end of their race. I’ve had times I didn’t think I’d even make that next round. A few fleeting moments I have been tempted to compare before pulling a quick reign on myself. There have been times I hit a bump and got rescued (thank you for such watchers) even those who stop by to say get back on track and step on it, it’s worth it at the end.
With time, some things become more obvious and clearer other times not. As I got familiar, I learned the best ways to negotiate sharp corners and still keep your speed ahead. When to pause, help or know who or what doesn’t need my help maybe just some encouragement and acknowledgment. That at the beginning of a race, we are all equal you can always choose to exit early. It does not matter how, why, who you came with, or brought you. The startline is sometimes the same. What you learn and make off life is really up to you. You might have streaks of luck here and there and that’s great share them but for this and more lessons, ofcoz with an appreciation for my companions who that afternoon kept drumming that I had to try and actually got me out there that day, whatever the reasons were, I best well never forget the lessons on that circuit that afternoon.