* * * My Words, My World, My Way * * *

Please Write: ALewisPDX@gmail.com

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain

A driver must have faith. In his talent, his judgment, the judgment of those around him, physics. A driver must have faith in his crew, his car, his tires, his brakes, himself.

The apex sets up wrong. He is forced off his usual line. He carries too much speed. His tires have lost grip. The track has gotten greasy. And he suddenly finds himself at turn exit with no more track and too much speed.

As the gravel trap rushes at him, the driver must make decisions that will impact his race, his future. To tuck in would be devastating: wrenching the front wheels against their nature will only spin the car. To lift is equally bad, taking grip away from the rear of the car. What is to be done?

The driver must accept his fate. He must accept the fact that mistakes have been made. Misjudgments. Poor decisions. A confluence of circumstance has landed him in this position. A driver must accept it all and be willing to pay the price for it. He must go off-track.

To dump two wheels. Even four. It's an awful feeling, both as a driver and as a competitor. The gravel that kicks up against the undercarriage. The feeling of swimming in muck. While his wheels are off the track, other drivers are passing him. They are taking his spot, continuing at speed. Only he is slowing down.

At this moment, a driver feels a tremendous crisis. He must get back on the gas. He must get back on the track. Oh! The folly!

Consider the drivers who have been taken out of races by snapping their steering wheels, by overcorrecting to extremes and spinning their cars in front of their competitors. A terrible position to find oneself in.

A winner, a champion, will accept his fate. He will continue with his wheels in the dirt. He will do his best to maintain his line and gradually get himself back on the track when it is safe to do so. Yes, he loses a few places in the race. Yes, he is at a disadvantage. But he is still racing. He is still alive.

The race is long. It is better to drive within oneself and finish the race behind the others than it is to drive too hard and crash.

From The Art of Racing in the Rain, a novel by Garth Stein.

I've just finished this novel. The first four chapters had me hooked. Easily. The book is written from the point of Enzo, the family dog. Any pet lover will find himself locked into pet feelings, emotions, and behaviors. The tie, the bond, the connection, between a human being and a pet is powerful. But then the book takes a few bends and twists that left me less than interested. Stein is a great author -- capable of delving into theories, patterns and thoughts that only pet owners will understand. But parts of the book felt sort of high-schoolish and immature compared with the first few amazingly deep chapters. I liked parts of this book so much that I'd like to recommend it. But much of it left me feeling like I was reading a simple sort of creative writing piece in school. Nonetheless, for anyone struggling in their life, or for pet owners, or for those facing trials or troubles, you'll be able to capture more than a few ideas on how to right yourself, center yourself......on what's worthwhile in this life and what is not. And that, my friends, is exactly what I needed in this time of my life. A bit of centering, correction, help.

5 comments:

Blair said...

"Nonetheless, for anyone struggling in their life, or for pet owners, or for those facing trials or troubles, you'll be able to capture more than a few ideas on how to right yourself, center yourself......on what's worthwhile in this life and what is not. And that, my friends, is exactly what I needed in this time of my life. A bit of centering, correction, help."

And I hope that the next week or so is exactly that. Centered, balanced, healthy, safe and exactly what is needed. I want that for you, and so does Enzo!

Rick said...

I absolutely loved this book! Was sobbing like a baby at the end. I didn't get much "centering" out of it - yet wasn't really expecting that from it - but just found it to be a good, well-written story.

paul said...

Please read "Dog Years" by Mark Doty, a masterpiece. Just the cover of the book says so much. What the story brings to the reader is best said by quoting one of the reviewers:

"Mark Doty moves lyrically from the weight of a dog's head in one's hand to the enduring questions of religion, the soul, and connection. Evocative, compassionate, a love story both intimate and grand, this is a beautiful book."

CJ/Rick said...

I think "for anyone struggling in their life, or for pet owners, or for those facing trials or troubles" pretty much includes all of us. Thanks for the heads up Arnie.
Keep your hands and fingers apart and your eye on the ball. Hang in there.

Ur-spo said...

I always enjoy hearing about books and why they are wows. (or in this case, bow-wows)