Thursday, December 11, 2014

Next Time

"I am not without scars on my brain and body, but I can live with them." -Hunter S. Thompson

Every crash takes a toll. Physical, spiritual and emotional debts pile up like unpaid bills while the collections people are ringing the phone incessantly and the IRS at your door in a smart little business suit with a smarmy grin. You begin to wonder how much luck equity you have left to keep borrowing against. Next time it might be worse, next time I might...

You can drive yourself mad thinking about next time, cocooning yourself in fear. The more pragmatic worry only about this time, knowing the next is not a given, hell, you gotta die of something right? Would you trade a short, exhilarating fireball journey for a slow stroll to ruinous old age? If what you do today can kill you today, not in twenty, fifty years, next week, but right friggin' now would you be ok with that? Or would self preservation instinct rail against it and have you looking for actuary approved activities? When it comes to life, I don't know if quality is measured in length.

It isn't death that has me waking up in colds sweats wondering what the hell I am doing, it's the fates worse than death that do. It's the things that racers don't like to talk about, the thoughts I shove out of my mind that are always trying to creep back in. Thoughts that can make atheists whisper a prayer.

A racer needs a healthy dose of denial, else they cannot do what they need to do. A wall must be built around the debilitating notions. I believe that anyone wishing to function at a higher level needs this ability. It has to be about 'what I am going to do.', not 'what should I do?' or 'what might happen if I do this?", and that mental attitude makes all the difference.

The crash puts this attitude to the test while shattering the glass house of denial. It knocks you down, literally and figuratively. It is your decision whether to get back up as staying down becomes a much more attractive option. The willingness to get back up, after you know the consequences, finally understand fully the risks, fascinates me. I don't know if it is noble or stupid, perhaps a bit of both, but it is certainly a way to learn the content of your character. The wise seek fulfillment on other paths, while fools continue to tread, maybe to prove something to themselves.

I couldn't stay down. I couldn't walk away, until it was on my terms, until I was ready. I knew this wasn't the wise or mature answer, but it was my answer. I chose to rebuild my Temple of Denial, but the mantra changed slightly from "It Won't Happen To Me" to "It Won't Happen To Me, Again", this was the only way to carry on with it.

Five weeks later I removed the ankle cast, strapped the collarbone, taped the ribs and had my accomplices assist me into the saddle of a borrowed Yamaha RD 400 (the T500 was in a bad way with a bent frame), so that I could salvage some points in my championship bid. There was no longer any hope of winning the championship, but runner-up was still possible. I forget where I placed in that race, maybe 5th, enough to secure second overall for the season, which would have to do. Until the next time...

The final version of the T500 before wadding it up at Mosport

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