This happens during racing. It happens during trackdays. It happens often. Something goes wrong. I blow that turn, miss my braking point and waste many precious moments. I'm passed, or I loose ground to the guy in front. I'm pissed. I have to catch up. I have to make up for it. I have to catch up everything I just lost. Or do I?
I've had that mindset often. It come in like a creeping obsession. Takes hold of me, of my mind and my thoughts. I. Have. To. And I don't. Because the harder I try, the less I do. The more I push, the more mistakes I do. It's been funny once, when I went carting with a friend who was faster than me. He was a good driver. I'd still have kicked his ass, of course, but he was also lighter. Anyway, after he passed me, I got dead set on catching up. And I started hitting every guardrail across the track, pushing harder to go faster. And the more I did, the more I threw and bumped myself around, the more ground I lost. Bruised hips and slapped ego at the end of the day.
On track that mindset sticks, and while intoxicated with it, our performance degrades. The easy things get hard, and the hard ones get harder. Nothing goes smooth anymore. Everything turns into a struggle. Those turns that were mastered, taken sharp on the racing line, apexed perfectly and exited beautifully, they turn into labor. The machine that flew across, balancing from side to side like on it's own volition now resist it's master. That communion through soft rubber turns into miscommunication and misunderstanding. The day's getting dark.
There is one way out. It seems counter-intuitive, but it's the only thing that works. Forget it.
I may have gotten badly out of the line and completely blown a turn to find myself entering the all important front straight, the one where time is gained by entering it well or lost by blowing the previous turn. No amount of regret will give me speed. No amount of anger will make me faster. Willing it to be otherwise will not give me a single millisecond back. Deciding to make it otherwise won't. There is only one thing that will make the next second, the next straight and the next turns right, and it's dealing with the present situation to the best of my ability. I'm not on the racing line, so there's no use thinking about it. But the target's still ahead. I can completely ignore what just happened and ride with all my might. But to do that I have to let go of the past.
This is usually referred to as forgiving. To forgive is to let go. To let go of all emotional attachment that would justify poisoning your riding. It can be hard, especially at first. Because forgiving is not innate, it's a learned skill. We seem to be born with a wish to punish ourselves. Or, if I can venture a psychological diagnosis from the height of my computer science degree, we're taught to punish ourselves from a very young age by our well-intentioned parents. We had to feel bad from breaking that window, right? We had to learn the consequences of our action, right? To become good obedient little people by obeying all the rules we learned existed after breaking them? Who's the madman who told people that their vulnerable learning children, their beloved flesh, fruit of their love, had to be punished to be molded to society?
So for everything that happens, I think that the best I can do is to accept and forgive. It's Eckart Tolle who said that to be well you had to forgive the past. And then start forgiving the present, and forgive every moment as it happens. You have my benediction to swear or yell to let it through. Let those emotions through and they'll let you through. And don't forget the same for the fun things! Feel that pleasure, for it too will pass. And look forward, giving life your full devoted attention. Not wasting a single Lux of consciousness. Not letting any thought drag you back. Not accepting any hindering state of mind. Keeping yourself free and your mind new to the present moment. Looking at that next corner and letting your machine shine all the way through.
There is one person that you should love with devotion, that you should love uncompromisingly, and it's yourself. And that means, amongst other things, not hurting yourself. You will learn from your mistakes just as well if you don't torture yourself over them. Actually, you will learn a lot better from them through acceptance. And you know that forgiving someone else is not about them right? Forgiveness is a personal thing. By forgiving you, I allow myself to let go of the pain. You were a justification to my personal torture, and I stop using you that way.
So no matter my last lap time, good or bad, only the current lap count. Only the current moment. It's all forward from now.