As I begin to write this, there are 35 days and change to the start of the Daytona 500. Normally, I would be excited right now, anxious with the anticipation of a new season. I’d be a fountainhead of analysis regarding all the Silly Season changes and moves, directing poignant commentary like it were some NASCAR symphony orchestra. And I’d especially be all over the on-going Danica Patrick Saves NASCAR story, along with the on-going Jeremy Mayfield saga like a cheap polyester suit on an hot humid day.
But I’m missing the spark, I not feeling much of anything right now. Now admittedly, this has more to do with me and the great and terrible world we live in, than it has to do with NASCAR. But it disturbs me greatly when something I am passionate about, flickers like a little flame and then goes out. Imagine if you will when on Sunday, February 14th 2010, the Grand Marshall of the Daytona 500 steps up to the mike and utters those famous words, “Gentlemen, START YOU ENGINES!!!” Imagine instead of the nuclear roar of the engines, imagine instead a dead and utter silence, and silence so bitter, so penetrating, so piercing and numbing, that bit by bit and person by person, the world around you begins to deconstruct and you are left alone at the starting line, in ghostly echoes of the empty speedway, under a bright and terrible sky.
One little bit of technical info has garnered my attention, however. It appears that NASCAR is on the verge of getting rid of that stupid focking wing and replacing it with a good ol’ fashioned spoiler. Evidently, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman logged enough frequent flyer miles last season to warrant a look at the spoiler. In wind tunnel tests, the spoiler appears to result in more downforce, and more dirty air in the car’s wake. I like that idea, it should make for better and more interesting racing. Assuming that there is an interest in that sort of thing when the time comes.
One person is usually all it takes, amazing as it might seem, to create or destroy. One small step can tread more heavily than all other footsteps combined. Some, for good, but most, unfortunately, tromp a path of destruction. Well, it takes two, actually, for someone is always on the receiving end. Motivational speakers…there’s one for you and if you take it to heart, you might be good to go. Or, you just might have your heart ripped out of your chest. Most likely the latter. Once it all sinks in and the utopisms of motivation casts it’s ghoulish and horrifying gaze across your innermost heart and soul, the nigh unto hopeless failure that you are that no doubt required the motivation to begin with is brutally revealed. What is the point of positive thinking if all it does is make you feel worthless?
Coaches and bosses need, or feel a psychotically compelling need, to motivate. And most of them are fucking assholes at it, to be honest. And while we all cheer the winning teams and the sales leaders and the champions and even the best-selling novelists and Academy Award winning actors, the darker side of all that glory, the abusiveness of it all, washes over me, and wave after wave leaches away most of the joy and enjoyment of all those great and terrible pursuits, until I can hardly bear to read an article in ESPN The Magazine. Instead a sinister and evil eye stares deeply into your soul, and you can’t look away no matter how hard you try. A snarling and vicious voice of a beast wails like a psychedelic siren into every corridor and room of your soul and there is no deafness from which to escape from it.
Unfortunately, there is always help in the community, albeit for the most part well-intentioned and misguided. Now don’t get me wrong here, the are truly serious community resources to bring an end to such things as abuse and violence and other social ills and I encourage all of you to become a part of the solution. What I’m referring to is the ad-hoc community of friends and associates and the disembodied voices of social networks. So unfortunately for most of us, our escape from turmoil and terror is dragged by the kindness of friends and strangers deeper and deeper into the horror of this fallen world.
Ideally motivation should come only from within. And if you’re with me on this, it is incumbent upon you to accept despair as part of the program. I am worthless. I am no good. Nothing I do is right. I am a failure and will always be one. That should be your mantra if you want to make you way truthfully through the world. There is honesty in that. Accepting and embracing that sad truth is the ONLY way to overcome it.
“You’ve gotta think fast, talk fast, act fast….this is a dangerous job…”
I’m tempted, of course, to say that whatever is on the inside isn’t really worth all that much, but I am either not that cynical or am unwilling to be that honest. There are limits, of course, to everything. As there should be. Without some limits, we at the very least run the risk of entropy. Energy will become dissipated and, pun not intended, we will lead a dissipate existence. If you think the universe is infinite, you are only kidding yourselves.
A NASCAR race is 300-500 laps. That’s it. 43 drivers start the race. Only one winner. The rest are all worthless losers, yes? And if you always finish 43rd, you’re the biggest loser of them all, correct? A loser everytime, yes?
Well, I’d hesitate to call Morgan Shepherd a loser. Now, to be honest, these days he usually does finish 34th-43rd or thereabouts most everytime he hits the tracks. But you wont find me calling the man a loser. While I don’t embrace or agree with his version of Christianity that he promotes, I have to admire the guy and root for him. There’s not too many 68 year old dudes who strap themselves into a car and go as fast as the Lord will allow. There’s not to many 68 year old dudes who roller-blade through the garage area before the race…not even the comparatively youthful Mark Martin does that. He’s had a long career in NASCAR and loves what he does…he closed 4 deals in Cup (his first was at Martinsville winning the Virginia 500 in 1981), 15 deals in the Nationwide series (his first was at Hickory Speedway in the Sunkist 200 in 1982). Here’s to you, Clay Morgan Shepherd. It’s what’s inside that counts.
Still 35 days and change to the start of the Daytona 500 as I type this, and I’m not sure if I feel any more of a spark than I did earlier. Maybe I do, but at least I’ve done this little paean to the power of negative thinking and despair. While I’m still, at heart, a Glass-is-90%full Guy, and my buddy Vern Landmark is a Glass-is-10%empty Guy, there is a virtue in an honesty that most people are uncomfortable with and unwilling to accept.
So what’s good, as a co-worker of mine oftimes asks me when I call him on the phone….well aside from the expected and customary things to say…let’s see. The Badgers upset Purdue today 73-66. That counts as good. The new Winter Anime Season has begun, and that might count as good, depending on one’s predilections. The Packers are in a playoff game tomorrow, and if they win, that will also be good. Our two dogs. Dogs are always good.
But 2010 will most likely be as horrifying as ever. So stay tuned.