Sunday, October 12, 2014

Comfort braking

Something happens when we approach a curve.  We put on the brakes.  It's called comfort braking.  Not when we're coming in fast and have to decelerate to take the turn.  When everything's fine, there is a slight direction change we can make without a sweat, but we still touch the brake.  Maybe just a bit, maybe enough to really feel it.  Like it's to confirm that the brakes still work, that we're still in control.  Once it's done, it's good, we can keep riding.  That curve's all right, cool.  But it had to happen, that moment of doubt, that automatic reflex.  Shit, grab the brakes.  Feww, thanks.

But it's for nothing.  The brakes still work every time.  And it was too late to test them anyway.  The curve was right, the speed was right, everything was good, so why that reflex to hit the brakes?

That robs us of speed, it robs us of concentration and fluidity.  And in extreme situations it can be dangerous.  On a first track day of the year, when I was all cocky from last year exploits but still in slumber from the winter motorcycle starvation, I went all the way through Mirabel's front stretch and hit the brake to get my comfort right.  Only the guy behind me, apparently in less of a slumber and less inclined to give his inner kid that over braking to make it feel better, rammed into me.  We didn't crash, and the other rider didn't apologize for ramming into my left leg to get me out of his way.  We both knew that in the fast group, there's no place for taking it cozy and smelling flowers on the way.  It's for riding, riding hard, and getting your fix all the way through.  I licked my wound and moved on down to a slower group, subtly encourage to do so by the witnesses and those who heard that racer's story of how that guy just braked in front of him for no reason.  At least for the time I'd need to shed the weight of my hibernation and enter in communion with my machine again.

Sometimes, I feel like I put on the brakes for nothing.  Life offering something new or unexpected, something unplanned for.  Life goes on, whether I resist it or not.  And the harder I resist, the harder it gets.  Are people out to get me?  Is life too dangerous to let if flow through full speed?  Why do I sometimes prevent myself from doing those thing I want to do?  What's that part of me that put on the brakes, just in case?  What's the worst that can happen anyway?  What's the best that can happen?  The answer to both of those question is life.  In all it's unrestrained fullness.  We carry all those learned reflexes around like a life jacket.  Like it'll keep us alive and well, keep our head out of the water.  But the truth is, that jacket is often what's sinking us down.

That reflex to brake from life may the only thing that keeps us from growing into our true potential and helping make the world a better place for ourselves and those around us.  It's not an easy habit to let go of, but it's definitely worth giving it a shot.  Enlightenment may be just around the corner, and no matter where we consider ourselves to be, if on that path at all, every small step into letting go brings us one step closer to that more fulfilling life.  To that life where everything is all right, even when going through obstacles that may seem insurmountable.  For every time you're tested, every single time you ease off resistance you've made another step.  And you know it, you can feel it inside.  Like a job well done.  Like having a better functioning and more efficient machine.  Having gotten rid of that gunk in the carburetors, or that cruft under the mouse that makes it stick down instead of floating smoothly over the desk.  Having succeeded in living another moment without inhibition, and probably of having shared that moment with someone.  Having shown a little light their way.  Maybe having shared a smile with them, which is more than money can do.

Full Speed Ahead Captain!

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