Einstein once said that if we were to look deeply into nature, we would understand our human story. Nature is fashioned of cycles and our lives are part of nature — yet we try so hard to make the initial attraction of racing stay put. To make it stay the way it is or the way we want it to be. This is like expecting a rose to always be in full bloom, with no phases of budding or fading.
Nature’s style, by contrast, is simply to stay through changes and trust in rebirth. Our human goal is much the same: to stay with love in all its vicissitudes, from bud to bloom to bareness and then back to bud. “This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath, shall become a beauteous flower when next we meet,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. The rose of racing grows petals in the romance of speed, thorns in car control and roots in the commitment to becoming a better driver.
All of our racing experiences and levels of interest follow the bell-shape curve: accelerating, cornering and braking. This geometric figure helps define human existence, that all things change and nothing is permanent. Thus, a driver’s rising interest crests in speed, descends with conflict and finally reposes in commitment. Racing is authentic when it stays intact through all the phases of change. Becoming a better driver based only, or mainly, on speed and braking cannot negotiate such curves.
Those who truly love speed and racing have learned to “live in the moment.” The true appreciation and excitement of racing can only happen when we become mindful of every heartbeat and breath. This love and appreciation comes only to those willing to appreciate the thorns, the wilted leaves and the need to prune. The true love of speed can only come to those who can accept the crashes, appreciate finishing fourth and understanding the need to make changes to the car or their driving style. It’s this reality of living in the moment that gives the winners the ability to anticipate the new buds that will come with time. They already know they will sit in the winner’s circle again.
It is comforting to know that success in racing goes through stages. If not for the various stages, wouldn’t all of us be bored or boring? The phases of learning to be consistently fast involve change, grief and renewal, all of which can only be arrived at by trial and error. They are not linear. We drift in and out of them, and their order varies. When we accept and work through changes, we evolve by learning. Our goal then, is to relish and enjoy changes and grow because of them, to use them as a crucible for personal transformation.
Stages characterize all human experiences, not just in the need for speed but more importantly, in the self esteem one gets by acquiring the ability and skill to reach and surpass a given stage. The model of the heroic journey is based on the same phases: departure, struggle and return. The hero departs from, and breaks out of, containment. He separates and, after struggling with cornering, braking and gaining confidence, seeks reunion at a more mature level. Unless we disrupt the process, we instinctively go through these same stages.
Just think about that for a second. Have you ever wondered why someone in the same class of car can go so much faster than you, and you still don’t believe you can go through that same corner as fast as you just saw him go through it? These are the blueprints in our psyches.
With the beginning of the 2015 NASA season, your can bloom again, too.