Here we go!
When I woke up today, the last thing I honestly wanted to do was reflect on points in my life that had come and gone. However, I was reminded by an awesome colleague and even better friend of this:
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” -Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (NIV)
It really resonated with me because of something my driving instructor at Exotics Racing in Las Vegas said to me. He said that he wouldn’t have been telling me I was doing good things if I hadn’t been. For a long time, people telling me I had been doing things well just to be nice. Brandon, my instructor, also said that he had been around way too long to tell people constructive things for the sake of being constructive. Looking back at it all now, it really makes me wonder just when I had been doing good things or just being told I was doing good things. However, that is something for another day.
What I really wanted to get off my chest is that we seem to only really encourage or impart words of affirmation only when we’re on the journey. We feel that the need to encourage one another only has punch when we’re about to do something important, risky, or unknown to us. I can agree that those three instances can be critical when it comes to being encouraging. However, it is disheartening to see it practically in only those three instances.
“For the most part, we have to work on small things right now. So, if we’re having to work on small things after six laps, that’s pretty good. It’s a car you don’t know. It’s a track you don’t know. It’s a driving style you don’t know. After six laps of doing pretty good… getting to where you’re working on small things, I think that’s pretty good, right?” -Brandon, my instructor
Halfway into the experience and to have this spoken to me by an experienced driver was… for lack of a better way to put it, encouraging! Here I am… no competitive racing skills or experience under my belt and just there for the sake of getting to drive a $120,000 sports car… to be told, by an experienced driver, that is what I would need to work on to progress? That’s what we all want! We want to be naturally in a position to have to make subtle adjustments instead of these whopping, life changing ones. All too often, we take those whopping ones for granted because we don’t necessarily appreciate the journey we took to get there.
As I’ve gotten a little older since then, I’ve learned to really enjoy not abiding in being stationary. Just because I haven’t left Canyon, USA doesn’t mean that I’m stationary. There’s always a place to go or a thing to do wherever you are. Lately, I’ve been exploring my faith and what it means to me. I’ve been exploring my talent for composition and creativity. I’ve been lots of places that a car could never take me. But, for those twenty minutes in that Nissan GT-R, I found that a car could take me places that I wouldn’t have ever considered otherwise: a place that showed that encouragement is a journey all its own and not merely just a stop along whatever path you happen yourself to be.
So, as I find myself sitting here reminiscing about the things I have experienced and the things yet to come, I am encouraged. Because at some point, somewhere down the line, there either has been or will be a Brandon telling me that regardless of what point I exist in, I have done good things and those little things will resolve themselves with understanding and application. It’s kind of a shame that at first, I didn’t believe him.
Now, I do. Wherever you are, I pray that you’re doing well and that the same drive and passion for racing and instruction serves you in areas of life that extend far beyond the track.
I can still hear “Turn now! Brake now! Push through the apex! Go, go, go!!!!” in my head. A lot better now because I can appreciate what it means to be encouraged through proper guidance. Wherever you are, I pray that you’re doing well and that the same drive and passion for racing and instruction continues to serve you in areas of life that extend far beyond the track.
P.S: Thanks, JP! As one racing fan to another, “Boogity! Boogity! Boogity!”
Often times, I’ve really wondered just what the word “living” actually meant. I mean, there’s gotta be more to what we do every day, isn’t there? I would hate to think that eating, breathing, sleeping, or working is very much or exactly what “living” is.
I am willing to be the first to admit that I haven’t done much living. Sure, I eat a lot. Sure, I breathe an excessive amount. I don’t sleep much. I never really did. As for work, I find myself spending a lot of time there. But, even in the midst of all of those things, I still have been wondering just what makes “living” so important.
Over the last five years or so, I’ve really had to come to terms with a lot of things that have happened. I’ve lost so much and I’ve gained so much. But, the manner in which all of these things have changed the sum of my life very often elude and confuse me. I still don’t quite know how to take everything. I mean, is this all too good to be true? Have I lost perspective? Am I being toyed with? All the questions that raise doubt and insinuate that things aren’t what they appear to be linger moving forward still exist. I suppose the real question is, “How do I endure without letting these questions change my motive?”
As I mentioned before, lots of things have changed for me over the last five years. But, it’s only been over the last three years that I’ve begun to understand what it all means. I’ve had to realize that it all means something and that it all has its place in the scheme of it all. Saying that all of these events haven’t impacted me is an understatement; but, their effect on me now versus what it could have been still feels like I haven’t learned anything about being where I am. Granted, I’ve gained some perspective and some wisdom (hopefully) about all of these happenings but one thing I haven’t learned (or understood) is how all of these things let me “live.”
Before this phase of my life I’m in now, I didn’t have much of a life or even one at all. It was devoid of meaning, purpose, and relevance. It was empty… damn empty. I wasn’t living in any sense or interpretation of the word. I lost my life.
One of my best friends said to me that if there was going to be any hope of recovering from the pain and salvaging what was left of whatever it was that I had, it was going to happen being around the right people. I didn’t know who the right people were. I had no idea what kind of situation that would look like. I had no idea. But, for me to figure all of that out took one big thing: risk.
The catch about taking risk is that we don’t really want to take that chance of giving up whatever we have, no matter how great or small, for the sake of something that may be better. If we felt that we had a better choice, we wouldn’t risk anything and just appropriate the things we wanted. Taking a risk makes us feel that we are vulnerable. Taking risks means that we are desperate. Taking risks means that whatever we have just isn’t enough…
It’s a difficult admission to make to anyone, especially ourselves, that our current state is inadequate. It naturally extends into our mindset and eventually our decision making. We protect whatever it is that we have because we don’t want to risk losing it and ending up with nothing. Or, ending up with something far worse than what we had in the first place…
That was me. That was my shitty life. Well, at least it used to be.
Learning how to take risks… take the chance… is a skill that I have yet to even begin to say that I have any level of proficiency. There are so many parts of me… about who I am… about who I used to be… that say that you haven’t really risked anything and that everything that has been granted to me is a result of being a desperate, lonely, and scared man. Someone to be pitied… someone to feel sorry for… and someone that deserved every cut, scrape, scar, bruise, and broken aspect of everything that was going on.
I chose to believe that. I wasn’t able to risk them being wrong. So, I didn’t. I couldn’t take that chance that I would lose. Lose what very little I had… lose my sanity… lose my Humanity. I couldn’t admit that I was vulnerable. Who wants to admit that? Our first thought is to admit that it is a sign of weakness. Totally not true. Admitting that you’re vulnerable doesn’t mean that you’re weak or inferior. Admitting that you’re vulnerable is a simple declaration that you’re nothing more or nothing less who you are. Everything that you have or don’t have… everything in abundance or in scarce supply… nothing more or less the person you are. That, in itself, is a HUGE risk.
Without going too much into it, I can say that taking risks are what “living” is all about. Sure, there are an infinite amount of reasons to choose not to do something. There are so many reasons to not… Nobody talks about the one reason… one… to take the risk… to take the chance on something that could ultimately lead to something so life-changing that everything changes.
I’m very fortunate to be in a situation now that affirms the importance of taking chances. I’m very fortunate to be in a situation where risk, whether it has yielded either positive or negative results, has affected change in my life. It has enabled me to have the vision to put aside things I have certainty in and have faith in my doubt and misgivings. It makes not knowing what the future holds okay. I don’t think I, or anyone else for that matter, could live knowing exactly how it all turns out. It makes… living… dull, boring, and predictable.
Earlier, I mentioned that I had no clue about what I thought “living” was. Maybe, now I do. I lost my life. I ceased living. I could have died. Some would argue that I did die.
But, in losing my life and being close to death, I found life and I am beginning to understand what in means to be living.
Because I understand what it means to be living… I also understand what it means to live.
Nobody ever became a legend by not.
Every single person who is one took the risks and chose to be.
And if they could, we can too.
Gotta risk it to get the biscuit.
At first when I decided to write another entry, I wanted to be expressive of the hope, joy, and closure I had been starting to find in my discoveries into how I’ve just wanted to be a better person. Instead, I’m going to choose to be expressive of the pain, regret, and misery I’ve endured past to arrive at this point.
If you’d ask anybody who knows me, they’ll tell you that I know enough to be able to say with great efficiency what not to do in any given situation. This knowledge, perhaps even a perverse form of wisdom, has served me well over the years. I may not be able to give you the right answer but I can definitely give you a wrong one. It’s a skill I don’t particularly wish on anyone.
With it, comes a certain anticipation that in whatever I did or whatever happens, there would be some negative reinforcement. After all, the things we don’t do will haunt us more than the things we attempted and failed. As a result, I’ve built a fortress of regret. Over the years, it has kept me safe. It has allowed me to seek shelter from risk and protection from malice. However, this fortress has been oppressive in its zeal to keep me from harm to a point where there is no safety in complacency. It only serves to further enforce the idea that if there is no risk, there is no reward. If there’s no risk, there’s nothing to gain.
The irony in it is that through everything, I still felt like that I may not have been risking anything but I was still under the impression that there was something to gain. I thought that maybe I was biding my time and looking for the right opportunity to act. The only thing I found was that in biding my time, I was further making myself a victim to all the pain and allowing regret to encase my only weapon in such a shell that it would be useless to anyone who wanted it… my heart.
When I decided that it would serve my interests and anyone else I might come across to decide to set out on a journey of self-discovery, I never knew the lengths I would have to travel or to the depths I would have to dig to learn new things. Not just about myself, but others to better serve them… and ultimately achieve a position that would allow me to come to grips with everything that I found to be wrong in my life.
It wasn’t until when that I allowed risk to motivate me that I found the path I was on to become a little more certain. It didn’t matter how treacherous or the destination… all that matters is that I had to take the leap of faith I needed to walk. I had to take the risk and just be mindful of the consequences… whether they be abundant and joyful or take action to mitigate the damage that these risks would inflict.
But, I found that the only real damage that was inflicted was firmly placed on my own shoulders. Inevitably, the pain and regret I had so chose to escape would find its way back to me… and nothing is more devastating than feeling that your best option wasn’t good enough and that hoping for the best was futile. It felt that letting go was the purest expression of acceptance and I didn’t want to accept that everything I had done would be a failure. I couldn’t allow that… not because I didn’t want to be a failure but rather I still believed that the possibility of success, no matter how minute, was worth fighting for.
Because of this philosophy, I didn’t realize just how far I had set myself back. I had spent so much time chasing the things I was afraid to lose to realize that the things that were afraid to lose me were so invested in chasing me.
I regret… not being able to tell Eric goodbye. I regret not being able to be a better man to those that needed me to be. I regret… missing out on an opportunity that has set the tone for most of my adult life. These things haunt me. They cripple me… and I’ve allowed them to instruct me to be submissive to reinforcing circumstances. I’ve allowed them to hide me under the cover of protection when in truth, I’ve allowed them to hide me from what I want most.
I’ve allowed them to keep me on a path instead of forging my own.
Through the journey, I’ve found that pain and regret are inevitable and part of the process. While these two things aren’t desired, they are indeed necessary. There is a reason why we call them “growing pains.” But, I’ve also found that they are tools for building our own identities. We only learn from the pain that making the wrong decisions brings and the regret that makes us wish we didn’t have to learn the hard way.
But, any good Captain finds ways to beat the odds instead of hiding behind them. Sadly, the only way we find success is learning from failure. In spite of the growing list to affirm failure, I’ve chosen to press forward and keep searching for the success that has so eluded me.
This hope… hope I believed I had lost… offered me only one inescapable conclusion: The chances I had lost would only prove to take pages out of the story I can only continue to write. Not because I have a choice but rather it’s my only choice. Far too many pages have been lost and it’s a decision that I couldn’t live with anymore.
In spite of all the missed opportunities and times I’ve felt isolated and alone, the idea that someday…somewhere down the line… that there will be a time where all the pain, regret, misery, and depression I had suffered along the way would carry me… and it has.
It has carried me away from the paradigm that there’s more to Life than just survival. It has carried me away from the idea that there is a such thing as “too late.”
It has brought me to a place where I can honestly, in my heart, believe that there are opportunities aplenty to chase the things worth chasing, to be able to see the journey through, and to arrive at a place where making all the wrong decisions allows me to make the right ones and by being here, the wisdom to know that chances are what we make of them and all we need to find the right things…
Or in my case, a chance to finally let go…
I can happily say that the last five days spent in Las Vegas has been some of the most interesting and life-enhancing time of my life. Not just on a professional level but on so many emotional and personal levels.
It’s amazing just how much we take advantage of how much we trust people, or the lack thereof. I have not met one person who gave a damn about how many welds it took to assemble their vehicles frame or how many separate parts it was. I have met people who just cared enough to believe that their airbag would deploy in the event of an impact. Those are the types of people I’ve spent too much time around. I’ve spent too much time and energy with people who prepare for the impact and don’t pay attention to what they’re doing with their lives is made of.
This whole weekend I’ve spent in Vegas was centered around being trained… being trained in the art of living… being liberated from the things that keep us down… being liberated from the idea that we JUST CAN’T WIN… Life isn’t a track meet. It’s a marathon. As cliche as that really sounds, it’s the fucking truth. It’s not about winning. It’s about finishing. We, as a people, have learned that just because we crash and suffer doesn’t mean that the race is over. It just means that we’ve crashed and suffered. It isn’t the end. It doesn’t have to take us out of the race.
The major point I’ve had just blitzed on my mind and heart was that we HAVE to trust the process and have the faith and courage to see things through. It’s so easy to jump ship at the first sign of trouble. It’s just as easy to let fear and doubt assume authority over our way of thinking. It’s INSANELY DIFFICULT to trust the Captain when everything is perceived to be out of control. The Bible says that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains… and how many of us honestly and truthfully believe that?
Johnny Wimbrey described to me that in a world where we are born to win, we choose to lose. I didn’t get what he meant at first. I’ve heard him speak before but it didn’t resonate with me until I took into account really why I was here. I came to Vegas because I believed that it would be good for me. I had faith that I’d learn something while I was here. I wanted to understand what it really meant to be a leader… a Captain. First, he had to explain what it meant to win. Winning isn’t about having the most points or being first! Winning is about finishing whatever it is that you started. More to the point, winning is a CHOICE. I’ve chosen to lose… to not finish… so many times… and it stabbed me in the heart when he said this.
The thing about losing… is that we choose to take the road with the less amount of risk that benefits us the most. It’s the human condition… it’s who we are! The irony about all of us is that we won our first race. I’m here, aren’t I? It isn’t anybody else! Ten billion sperm and you finished! YOU ARE THE SOLE SURVIVOR! Don’t tell me you weren’t born to win! That’s exactly why you were born! I’m a life long racing fan… I always have… and I’m fairly sure that I always will be.
To be honest, this whole thing scares the shit out of me. I’m so used to doing things myself and listening to my own thinking that it makes me dangerous. I admit it. I am dangerous. However, I am truly blessed to surround myself with a slew of mentors and other leaders who can outmaneuver my line of thinking. It’s a humbling and enlightening experience to be in the presence of those who can do this. In multitude, there is safety… the more surrounded you are, the better. And I didn’t appreciate the idea of being surrounded by these types of people until yesterday afternoon.
On Thursday, I went to Exotics Racing out at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I got to ride in a limousine! That’s pretty cool! If you haven’t, I highly suggest you do. It’s totally worth it. Anyway, I thought I was a pretty decent driver with a little bit of a lead foot. When I got there, it was a totally different ball game. After the ten minute safety briefing, we took a lap or two in a discovery car to get a feel for the track… then it was time to get in the car…
We all have talents that can bring us to the game but most of us don’t really appreciate or even trust them to get us into a position to play. I was scared as all hell to get into the car. I had to ask my instructor how to open the door! How stupid did I feel? How awkward was it for me for him to adjust the seat for me… I couldn’t even make myself feel comfortable. It was the most nerve-wracking experience ever driving a car. Through my every insecurity about driving a $110K car, my instructor didn’t judge me. He didn’t say I was a bad driver. He didn’t say I was a coward… All he said to me was basically, “Trust me.” So, I took a deep breath and said to myself, “I’m here. I’m in the car… I paid to be here.” But, the most important thing I said to myself then was, “Brandon, I trust you.” I had to get rid of every excuse I could have given to get out of the car and remember why I decided to get in. Not because I felt obligated because I paid $560 for the experience (and yes, I do mean that) but because I wanted to be there. It was my dream! I fantasize about that car! If that car was a woman, I would have done unspeakable things to her! But, I digress… I had to make the decision to not let my fear of failure and consequently a fiery disaster persuade me that I had a chance to do something great and worth doing.
So, he explained to me some of the nuances of the car and what we would be doing and asked me if I was ready. Hell no, I wasn’t. I was nervous, excited, and giddy all at the same time! I didn’t wanna ruin it by becoming ungrounded from the thinking that I wouldn’t enjoy the journey. Well, the drive in this case. 🙂
So, he told me where to go and off we went. I had to trust that the training I had received prior and all of the in-car guidance I was getting would see me through to the end and the faith that Brandon wouldn’t let me fail. The fact that I’m writing this is proof evident that the man did really well in keeping me safe.
I had a great time driving the Nissan GT-R. My dream car… my fantasy… More than that, I lived a dream. It’s proof evident that dreams, no matter how big or small, can come true as long as you courage to believe and the faith to stay on the train. Instead of coming up with a reason to not drive and feel like a loser who welcomed failure, I made a choice to face my fear and let my “WHY” be bigger than any “NO.”
And because I chose to win, I’ve crossed three items off of my bucket list just by being here in Las Vegas. Driving the GT-R, Getting to actually race. And just be in Las Vegas!
Johnny Wimbrey said, “Don’t argue for your limitations. People will let you keep them.”
Because I chose not to argue the things I couldn’t do, I was given the freedom to do the things I could. Nobody can speak to you like you… and I spoke to myself and said, “I can do this.”
And because I had the faith and courage, I finished the race. I won! But, I had a lot of help from someone who said to me that it’s the little things that kept me from doing better than I could have. Even then, he still said I did great and I believed him. He didn’t abandon me. He didn’t give up on me. He didn’t let me fail. Through the ups and down, we stood on the train and arrived at the end together. I didn’t just win… WE won… and it was much more fun when it was the both of us and equally as frightening as when it was just me…
Believe me when I tell you he got onto me… the video, if I’m nice enough to post it, will demonstrate that. He believed that I didn’t have to be talented to be successful… just willing to learn and be coached. Even then, the track wasn’t dry and there were water puddles. Talk about unfair!
I was hanging by a thread. Instead of cutting my thread, I chose to connect my thread to people who could strengthen my resolve and have the faith… to have faith.
There is better. There is a possibility to win.