A Whisper, A Deafening Roar, A Reply.

Do you know what it’s like to want something so intensely, and with such passion that you…perhaps, made a mistake?  Or forgot what matters? Or forgot who you love?Or forgot who you are?

It goes like this….

Before you can even remember yourself, or the sky, or the mountains,  you remember waking up every day of your life fantasizing on it. A mysterious sequence of notes embedded into the song of your existence.  Oh, truly! The sweetest four string sonata becomes a soundtrack for your thoughts.

Over the years you cherish the blessing of this sublime piece playing a narration to your timeline. Growing from a young tot into the real you, the dreamy notes serenade quiet moments and beguile summer evenings.

Your little budding dendrites signal the neuro-humoral dopaminergic striations as you unconsciously nurture it. You crayon color in pre-school, pencil little doodles in study hall, and in meetings, even now, there you sit scratching ball-point notes into your  portfolio margins.

Over time, your ear strains to listen for those faint notes engulfed by the insistent rhythms of professional, financial, social, familial songs. Those competing popular tunes, although brash and loud, are important, catchy, and impossible to avoid. Amidst these raucous yet enjoyable top 40 hits, your exhausted ears from time-to-time seek out low soothing cello notes from way back when.

Inevitably, with time, those competing pop-tunes diminish in intensity, frequency, and duration. You are sometimes surprised by new moments of silence. By some miracle, the original mellifluous melody does not abandon you. You listen for those notes as they synergistically flow, clear and true. Dare your ears follow it? Gingerly you dip in, just to test it.

It feels perfect. In fact, more than perfect.

Incredibly generous, loving, kind souls as they are, your loved ones and well-wishers support you.

Ahhhhhhhhh — at long last!  Decadently, you disrobe and swan-dive deliciously and deeply into those treble and bass clefs, finally parching a thirst that feels SO impossible to quench. You forget you’d staved it off for a lifetime.

Luxuriating in the immersion feels SO right, SO real, SO natural. You forget it was a fantasy. You lovingly embrace soul-brothers and soul-sisters who delight in the richness of these aural acoustic currents, just as you do, and delightedly pass around the cup of your shared song. Intoxicated by the joyful surprise of possibility, terrified that you will lose your only chance ever, your greedily drink it in with boorishly huge choking breathless gulps. You forget they equally deserve the cup.

You grab that goblet tightly in both fists! You cheer yourself! You pour it over your head! You swish it around in your mouth and spit it out! You hold your breath and dip your head under ! And keep repeating it all! What revelry!

And: What of your loved ones? Do they share this dream-filled acoustic nectar? You offer, but they shake their heads. Because they love you, they smile to see you happily sated.

So surprised, delighted, smitten – nay! – passionately overwhelmed in love are you that something gets lost. A once unassuming innocent string aria has now swollen into full concert-hall orchestral presentation. Crumpling under its own weight, it clumisly, uproariously, cacophonously lunges into crescendo. Your ears muffle.

A childhood promise once softly longed for, is now belligerently demanded as a right. Fear drives it. What if you lose it? Forever? Will you, once again, be reduced to starving after those faint notes for the remainder of your existence?

Threatened by impending scarcity, you grab the melody harshly brandishing it around. You stridently bellow the notes, banishing all other songs. With single-minded focus, furiously keeping the song alive, you grab it by the neck. You don’t hear it rasping.

Survival depends on this.

Your vision extends only to end of your nose.

You stop measuring your words.

You forget where your grace lies.

Do you not miss the quiet sweetness? Do you not sense the obvious stench of a sweet ballad grotesquely metastasizing into a club-swinging behemoth wreaking havoc? Bulldozing tender seedlings and feelings, is that the plan? Becoming selfish, spoiled, or both…that’s your dream?

And…what else did you miss?

A crestfallen droop on the daughter’s lip? A disguised sadness of voice as the sweetheart turns away? A furrowed sorrow in the kindest, wisest friend’s deep brown eyes? A dwindling of replies to trans-Pacific long distance voice messages? A rapid collapsing of the happy-go-lucky cousin’s brilliant-white smile?

You see don’t those. You don’t even glance at the price tag.

But now, you ask yourself:

What if it’s too late?

What if it’s not?

What next?

Keep reading below…

In 2016, I spent 41 days on track. If you add in the travel dates, that’s just shy of 60 days away from home. I drove 4 new tracks: Mid Ohio Sports Car Complex, North Carolina CAR, Atlanta Motorsports Park and Sebring International Raceway, and I became appointed as an instructor by Performance Driving Group and The Mercedes Benz Club. I vomited at track more than I’d care to admit. I was scheduled to do 10 events originally, but ended up doing 16. Or maybe 19. I lost count.

My closest track family (SwamiMike, Vader, and Tex) all offered judicious, kind, wise words of caution. Stupidly, I ignored them. My home family including our kids, my siblings, our parents, and my spouse also sweetly offered gentle caution. Stupidly, I ignored them.

I was wrong.

Many casualties were sustained. Some survived, others did not. All were, to a greater or lesser extent, the result of my poor choices.

What I gained in driving skills in 2016 was paid for by my dearest people, in precious currencies of smiles, kindness, good-will, health, and love. The price in 2016 was too high. The urgent noise of my dream drowned out the whispered sweetness of the gifts I’d received by the people who matter the most.

Family, friends, health, and laughter are shelter, food, and water. Essential. Music, track, hair styling products are important, but not necessary.

Weeks ago, I wrote out my track calendar for 2017. Twenty-two events planned, meaning almost fifty days on track,  meaning over 65 days away from home. 

This morning, the answer I gave my calendar was: “No. Not worth it. I won’t be doing 21 events in 2017.” 

For all you who are generous enough to encourage me in person, in writing, offer advice or mentoring or covering for me at home or work or the millions of things that have gone into making me the driver I am today, please accept my humblest gratitude.

I don’t make promises lightly, and those I do make, I try my hardest to keep. My promise is to work harder to keep perspective on track-life balance. I look ahead with hope, in spite of the losses sustained. Some lessons must be learned the hard way.

May your New Year, 2017 be filled with family, friends, health, and laughter.

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