It’s Never Enough

After a season of racing, Ceegar and I finished almost the same number of laps, but I finished two more than he did. After my engine issues in Seattle, after his dropped mirror in Spokane and flat tires and the wreck in Portland, it came down to two laps.

I’m headed north this weekend to get some sort of award for that. It doesn’t mean I’m the best driver, because I’m not, or my car is the fastest, because it’s not. It means I finished with two more laps over four or five races, and it’s a chance to get together with friends.

The organization we race with is letting cars 15 years newer join the fun. I’m all for it if it brings more people out to play, because our sport is dying. But part of me doesn’t think it will make much difference. Kids don’t grow up to be gearheads anymore.

Strange, because we live in a time when the most amazing cars ever sold are coming right from the factory, cars with 600+ horsepower that handle better than the most sophisticated race car of 40 years ago. Better than much of what we run on the track on race weekends.

Putting that kind of firepower in the hands of the untrained is stupidly irresponsible. Eventually enough bad things will happen that nobody will be able to buy these machines.

Instead, Google electric cars will drive us safely to buy crap from China we don’t need sold at whichever shopping mall we programmed in and while we play with our email until we get there. Won’t even have to look outside.

It’s probably time for me to think about slowing down, but I saw a T-shirt years ago that said, “The faster you drive, the slower you age.” Maybe that’s something from Einstein, I don’t know. But for those of us out there every season, it seems to be true. Or maybe we’re just a bunch of aging adolescents who believe it’s true by avoiding the mirror.

At some point, reality is going to catch up with us. I worry about that a little bit. It’s not just kids today who have access to power and speed that might exceed their ability.

Cowboy’s building a new car, Canuck will probably have his finished. Beater will be ready to go in his new Frankenvette. Ceegar will get it done with his Mustang, he always does, and I’m not exactly sitting out here in MiddleofNowhere Oregon waiting for the sun to set.

We may be building cars that are faster than we are. I wonder if something bad is going to happen one of these days because of that. We’re not fly fishing out there. If we coax these thundering, howling beasts up from 160 mph to 167 mph, what might happen? Those are speeds that professional drivers would have loved to turn not that long ago.

Do we have the chops for that? The judgment? What happens if we build bigger engines but don’t have bigger brakes? If parts fail that we amateurs don’t want to spend money on?

I suppose that’s the nature of the game, and we’re still playing. Bigger motors, wider tires, faster cars. Ready or not, here we come. It’s not about awards. We’re still out there because that’s what we do, the cars are faster because that’s what it takes, we keep looking for more because that’s who we are.

It’s never enough.

Convenient fictions

I’ve come to believe that all of us are often wrong about why we believe what we believe. We rarely go through any sort of analysis of how we came to our conclusions.

For the most part, we bring our history to an experience, slap a convenient pattern on it that pretends to be an explanation, and leave it at that.

This is certainly true of writing. But in writing, at least the kind I do, I get to admit that I am creating fiction. My point is that we all do this all the time. We create fictions of what is happening almost as soon as it happens. Then this fiction is regarded as a fact that influences future impressions.

Which build and influence future impressions that build and influence future … yadda yadda.

Rather than thinking about it, the “truth” (if such a thing exists out of context) emerges over time as our impressions sift themselves, the more valuable (but no more “correct) rising to the top. These impressions tend to reenforce themselves.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s a necessary part of surviving in this world, this wondrous ability to create and believe in patterns we create to explain; cause and effect, if you will.

Man used fire long before he understood how oxygen and carbon release heat when combined. Eons ago, his explanation worked well enough that he had fire when he needed it. The fact that he was entirely wrong about the causes of combustion didn’t matter.

That ability to create patterns to guide our behavior extends not just to fire. It helps us survive social situations as well. We avoid angry drunks spilling out of the bar when we don’t want to fight, and duck the lady at church who wants to talk about her grandkids for an hour when we have a pie burning in the oven at home.

But occasionally our patterns hinder us. If we were badly victimized, we will tend to  perceive victimhood; angry people find things to be angry about, fixers find things to fix, preeners are disappointed when adulation isn’t forthcoming, etc.

I’ve found this especially true the more attached we are to issues of relationship, politics, values. I’m not talking about Ford versus Chevy.

It’s how our brains are wired. I won’t go into the science. It doesn’t matter in this discussion. What’s important is to acknowledge that it happens, that we are often more “right” the longer we take to form an opinion or take action, that we are on safest ground when generous toward those with whom we disagree, and leave our minds open.

It’s hard work. But so are a lot things.