For Thea's (my future brother-in-law) bachelor party, we went to F1 in Boston. F1 is an indoor, high-powered go-cart track. Two tracks actually, but we only raced on one (track 2). The track allows for 10 racers at a time. There were 15 of us, so we raced in two groups. There were two initial races, and the top ten with the best lap times raced in a final championship round. We were told we would have four races, with the fourth race being the championship race, so at least some of us felt cheated out of a possible win.
It was an incredible experience. I've always understood how professional racers constantly search for the balance between losing control and pushing the machine to its limit. If you're afraid to lose control, then you'll never find where that limit is and therefore never be as good as you could be. This fact holds true in many aspects of life as well. But passing the limit is one thing, you must also find a synergy between control and chaos. I grasped hold of that synergy several times tonight.
Life is fragile. We live on the edge every day without even knowing it. It's only when we get really close to losing control that we realize how out of control something can become; when we just barely avoid a car accident or feel the pit in our stomach as we almost fall off a ladder.
This is an interesting realization for me, in that I've never understood why I do well in certain things and yet with others I feel something inside myself holding back. For example, I compared my racing at F1 with the Mazda Rev-It-Up racing a few years ago, in which we raced actual full size Mazda6 cars. There was no speed limit, you wouldn't have to pay for the car if you flipped it over and the most that could happen to you if you knock over a cone, or even drive entirely out of the course area, is that you'd be penalized or not allowed to compete in the final round. Why then, should I hold back? I shouldn't have, but I did. I held back because I knew with enough speed and just the right turning, it was possible to flip the car. Was it instinct? Was it an intelligent risk assessment? Or was I just being chicken shit?
During the F1 racing, I knew the limits, the maximum speed, the track, and I knew I couldn't flip over. So I pushed the limits, over and over. Tires screeching, I drifted around the corners at maximum speed, spinning out only once in 55 laps. I averaged the best lap time out of everyone during the first two races, so my cart started in first place during the last round. Life must have been teaching me to be humble because in 55 laps the one time I spun out happened to be during the championship round. It cost me the round entirely (I ended with 7th place).
This realization also made me understand why I enjoy change and why, as monotonous as it can become, I enjoy driving. It's mental challenge I crave, visual and physical stimulation to challenge my senses. When I'm driving, I know at any moment an accident could happen. This causes me to be alert and take driving very seriously. I cannot settle into a little rut and enjoy it. I'm not satisfied when something is complete or when everyone else wants to sit back and admire their work. Movement. That's what I crave. Whether physical or mental, movement is vital to our growth as a human race.
Music. If you actually listen to and analyze every beat in your head, you begin to create a mental work of art, which, for me at least, seems to instantly transform into emotion. Movement. Always stay moving.
Mistakes are limits. They are dead end roads. When you discover a dead end road you don't park your car and wait for the road to suddenly lead somewhere interesting. You turn around and find another route! Life teaches us lessons. We have the choice to learn from those lessons and use them to make more educated decisions, or to forget the lesson and make our journey that more difficult. If you're lost, you don't throw away a map that has been handed to you, right? So why would you want to throw away anything that will help you live a better life? (If you don't know how to read a map, learn.)
So how does F1 racing have anything to do with learning lessons in life? Well the single time I spun out in 55 laps shows me how even though you think you've got life figured out, even though you were handed the first place position at the start of the race, there is always something new around the corner. Maybe a new lesson, maybe a new idea. The point is this: don't settle for anything. The moment we begin to accept things for the way they are, we age -- we become old and rigid. Finding that synergy, that balance, in life is what keeps us forever young.