A few blogs back i filled you in about some not so good things that happened to me. You know me bitching about losing my job, blah blah blah. Sitting in a Marriott parking lot as i escorted my grandmother to the car, I started the daunting task of putting all my motorcycle gear on. For some reason, on that day, i was second guessing myself and everything i was doing. I’m not going to lie, I felt like i was failing at my life, like something was missing. I had lost my job, to which I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about. My life was in turmoil. This is a place i don’t come to very often because I try to do my best to stay away from it. Life tends to throw situations at you testing that you can keep the garbage in the trash can and not get it stuck in your head. On the elevator ride down from my grandmothers hotel room, she was talking about something or someone getting hurt. Im sorry grandma, that i can’t remember the conversation we were having, but in a nonchalant funny way i mentioned “along with my pride” trying to initiate a conversation about the crap running through my head. Throughout my life I was accustomed to being babied when it came to things i didn’t want to hear; I now am tired of it because all it leads to is a sense of apocryphal hope. At the end of the day, for whatever reason, I know my grandmother will tell me how it is, whether I want to hear it or not. So here I am, asking the smartest, most beautiful, stubborn souled person i know about what to do with my life. I’d love to tell all of you that my grandma had some miracle advice that would fix all my problems, but unfortunately life doesn’t provide you with miracles, you have to make them happen.
I began to tell grandma about how I didn’t like the way things were going. I’d finally found something useful to suffice my non working status. But things weren’t as I expected, and making sense of it was troubling me. I still find my grandmas approach to the whole ordeal interesting. Her first question to me was, “what do you want to do with your life?” I sat there, motionless with nothing useful to say. I honestly had no idea. Its such a simple question, with such a simple answer. With a dumbfounded look in my eyes, grandma started picking. The place she went to took me off guard. “When you were a little kid what did you want to do?” Holy crap! That’s a question i could answer. Ready for my childish pipe dream?
A sprint car is an “open wheeled” (no fenders), “open cockpit” (no roof, no doors) vehicle measuring roughly 12 feet bumper to bumper and 7 feet side to side. The chassis is constructed of a minimal tube frame with a short 84-inch wheelbase. The suspension, deliberately crude by modern standards, consists of a live axle in the rear and a dead axle up front, and torsion bars for springs. A V8 engine, fueled by methanol, is connected to the quick-change rear axle by a coupler called an “in-out box”. There’s no starter motor, and the battery is only large enough to power the ignition system for the evening. Sprint Cars use very large right rear tires, in fact an average right rear tire is around 21 inches wide, has a circumference of 105 inches and a 33.2 inch diameter on a 15 inch diameter wheel to couple the irresistible force to the soft clay below. The driver sits atop the rear axle, “upright”– much like sitting in Grandma’s antique chairs for Thanksgiving dinner with his legs straddling the driveshaft.The body, what there is of one, is made from either sheet aluminum or fiberglass. The standard powerplant of professional sprint car racing today displaces 410 cubic inches, and is based on aluminum blocks from Donovan or Rodeck, and aluminum heads from Brodix. The basic dimensions (bore center spacing, deck height, etc.) are still those of a Chevy V8, but you won’t find a single GM part in the engine. Roller tappets and rocker arms actuate the titanium valves. Tall injector stacks top it off, feeding a potent mix of methanol and air to the cylinders. More fuel is injected through “down nozzles” in the side of the heads . Oiling is handled by a dry sump system, with the oil tank often located just ahead of the driver on his left. These engines routinely top 8000 RPM, producing in excess of 1000 horsepower. The cars can weigh between 1300 lbs. and 1700 lbs. with the driver. With a power-to-weight ratio comparable to a Formula 1 racer’s, and a short, tippy frame, a sprint car spends most of its time scrabbling for traction, broadsliding around the corners, wheelstanding on the straights, and throwing clay into the stands, while the driver wrestles frantically with the steering wheel. The car holds one occupant, the driver, who sits centered in the car behind the motor but in front of the rear wheels. Sprinters can be raced both with and without wings. “Wingless” is the traditional form of competition, however “winged” sprints became a common form in the early 1980s.They are known to be one of the most dangerous forms of racing in the world. They see in access of over 140 miles per hour. The interesting thing about sprint cars is the way they turn, or the way they don’t turn. A famous quote about sprint cars is that ” to go left you must turn right, and to go right you must turn left” Turning a sprint car involves pitching it into a corner, and keeping the car in control with the throttle. The first race i ever attended was a sprint car race, And god was i hooked.
Awesome pipe dream isn’t it? I wanted to drive a race car. It’s funny how in such a small amount of time, my grandma turned my dumbfounded, saddened look, into a huge smile. Yes I want to strap myself into a 1000lb, 1000 hp, adrenaline machine and take it around a clay oval, sideways doing 140 miles per hour. Come to realize its not a pipe dream, It’s what makes me happy. Isn’t that what life is about, making yourself happy? Yes, that’s exactly what it’s about. Although this being my childish pipe dream my other dreams can’t be set aside. Now let’s get one thing straight, driving a sprint car is a dream that is not happening anytime in the near future, there are so many important things than driving a race car. I want my own house. Something I can call my own, and be thoroughly proud of. I want a family. I truly feel that I have something special in me to offer my kids, and would feel empty if i had to live my life without them. I was born to be a father. I forget this from time to time, because hell I’ve never been in the situation where the opportunity has been available. People in my life have reminded me of this, whether it was something i wanted to hear at the time or not. I appreciate all who have, and appreciate you having my best interests always in mind, even if it means reminding me in a way that doesn’t make me happy,
I got follow your bliss tattooed on my arm so i would never forget to do what makes me happy, but for some reason i still do. The same tattoo is printed across the chest of Buddy Nielsen, the lead singer for my favorite band Senses Fail. The reason this quote was so important to me is in the context in to which I first heard it.
In the Senses Fail song Can’t Be Saved the song begins as such,
Follow your bliss , it reads on my chest
I knew I got it tattooed for a reason
Why can’t I just hold it true.
From the context of the song, buddy feels he can’t be saved because he hasn’t “followed his bliss”. When i heard it for the first time, my utter love of quotes took over and i started researching what it meant. The short definition is to follow your heart. On the contrary, Follow your bliss is a sacred call to action for your soul to pursue what makes it happy, and what makes it light up. To find the thing in your life that makes it seem like three minutes has gone by when it’s really been hours. Now the unfortunate side to this, is that some people will never find this. It will bother some, and to others it wont really matter. I’m lucky that in my life, I’ve found it, and in more than one thing.
After my smiling, gitty ten-year old self calmed down, grandma took charge. The essence of what grandma was saying is best described by a quote by my father. “There are 3 types of people in this world, people who watch things happen people who make things happen and people who sit around and wonder what the hell happened”. It’s a quote i refer back to a lot, but its meaning keeps being redefined over and over again. She told me that the only thing left to do was to get up and go do it. If you want to follow your dreams, you need to just go do it. It’s hard to change your life, I’ve been through it before so i understand it. But when it involves bettering yourself or doing what truly makes you happy there is nothing to lose. You have to realize what is important, set goals for yourself, achieve those goals, and never stop setting and achieving. So where did this wonderful conversation with my grandma lead me?
There is more than one correct answer to the question, it lit a fire under my ass. A fire that has always been there but never really had a very flammable fuel source. It made me think about what I truly want in life. Take a second and think back to what you wanted to be when you were a little kid. Is it something like being an astronaut, or a movie star, or maybe even the president. If its something that still puts a smile on your face, go do it. When you’re a kid, the only thing you care about are your dreams. You don’t have to worry about bills, or the mortgage, or having gas in your car, all you have to worry about is having fun, and being happy. Its something we adults tend to forget when we grow up. The simple pleasures in life, that put smiles on our faces. Whether it involves collecting stamps, or running marathons. Go do it. Ill end my blog with a beautiful quote from Hamilton Wright Mabie. The question for each man to settle is not what he would do if he had means, time, influence and educational advantages; the question is what he will do with the things he has. The moment a young man ceases to dream or to bemoan his lack of opportunities and resolutely looks his conditions in the face, and resolves to change them, he lays the corner-stone of a solid and honorable success.