Going against the grain

April 12, 2010

Speeding is dangerous. We all know that.

Braking on turns is important. Unless you want your vehicle to topple over.

Keeping a safe distance from other cars is critical. For your own safety and theirs.

Key things to remember when driving a car.

Things that have been drilled so deep and so often that your brain does not know how to ignore them.

You know if you dismiss these safety tips there might be fatal consequences.

It’s hard to wipe off years and years of training in half an hour and start afresh. Yet, that’s what go-karting meant for me last Friday evening.

Ten of us. Genteel friends in real life; aggressive competitors on the track. Revving to beat the others in a test of skill.

It was my first time.

From the stories I’d heard, it was bound to be a lot of fun. All you had to do was let go.

That’s easy, right?


When “pro-drivers” are overtaking you from both sides, all you’re hearing is tire squeals and whirring engines, and your line of sight is restricted to what’s in front of you — not so much.

I held on ever more tightly to my steering wheel. I let all those who wanted to pass me, go. I braked at every turn, especially hard at the two hairpin ones.

And they said this was going to be fun?

Letting go was the last thing I could do.

Strapped in snugly with my helmet on, I couldn’t abandon that feeling of safety. I knew I wouldn’t topple over. I knew I wouldn’t be hurt. I knew the chances of anything “bad” happening were miniscule. And yet, I couldn’t just shrug off all those years of training.

And then, sometime in the middle of a time trial, someone hit me from behind (later found out it was my husband). Spinning, I went smashing into the barriers. My first instinct was to take my hands off of the steering wheel. For a split-second there was complete silence.

I turned my head. The rest of them were still going at it.

The yellow lights came on, indicating “an incident” had occurred, forcing the drivers to slow down to walking pace.

One of the marshals came up to me. “Are you ok?” he asked. I nodded feebly.

“Do you want to get out of the car?” he questioned kneeling down.

“Neah, I’m good to go,” I found myself saying.

I was shaken up.

In a good way, though.

The implicit fear of getting hurt had been squashed by that impact. I knew now that it was all in my head.

gokart 225x300 Going against the grainAs I made my way back from the pits, I felt more confident.

I still couldn’t bring myself to take my foot off the brake pedal, but I certainly used it a lot less.

And this time, I even bumped someone!

This was fun.

It was an adrenalin rush like I haven’t experienced before.I came in second from last, but it didn’t matter.

We spent half an hour post-race discussing who hit whom how many times. Everyone keenly looking at their “report cards,” analyzing best lap times, RPMs, and what-nots.

Over the weekend, I revisited this “adventure.”

I had come to believe that going against the grain would come easily to me, given how in real life I’m always defying convention. But I was one of the most cautious people on the track. Letting go of safety, security, all that I knew was “sensible” wasn’t natural.

I couldn’t just be reckless!

But the “accident” showed me that I was hanging on to the safety net a bit too hard. That I was so engrossed in ensuring my physical well-being that I had stopped having fun.

And the whole purpose of being on that race track was to have fun.

Made me think about life. About our ensuring that everything be so perfect, so fail-safe, so out-of-harm’s-way, that we forget to enjoy it for what it is.

We always try to abide by set rules. Our conscious and subconscious mind reminding us to conform.

But on the track, all those conventional rules didn’t matter.

And it felt good.

Liberating. To drive on our own terms.

And that’s my takeaway lesson for life.

Let it go.

Have fun.

You only get to live once. Why not make the most of it?

16081BD1A60533E0F1173D28DE4F0D3F Going against the grain

dp seal trans 16x16 Going against the grainCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2010 Mansi Bhatia

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4 Responses to Going against the grain

  1. lenaNo Gravatar on April 13, 2010 at 3:19 am

    The whole idea sounds fun to me. It even looks fun to me. But I guess the risk factor would hold me from getting into it. But then who knows, we live only once, right? :)

    • MansiNo Gravatar on April 13, 2010 at 6:17 am

      Try it some time :-)
      Life’s too short for "some day…"

  2. BillNo Gravatar on April 13, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Thanks Mansi, we are all so conditioned in life that sometimes we forget to live. That’s why change is so hard for so many people. Even when they aren’t happy with the way things are they’ll hold on to it because they know this way!! Letting go in life takes practice but there’s great rewards for allowing it to happen.

    I appreciate your adventure,



    • MansiNo Gravatar on April 14, 2010 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks, Bill. You’re right … it does take practice. The sooner we start, the better we get at it :-)


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