“The secret of getting ahead is getting started.” Mark Twain
At different times in my life, that quote from Mark Twain, has meant so much to me. Sometimes it is said with great enthusiasm, sometimes weak or silently in my mind, the inflection in tone can represent so many different seasons in life. I’ve always had hope in knowing something is ahead and it is amazing. When the opportunity came up to attend the Porsche Driving Experience in Atlanta, I giggled, snorted and emphatically did not hesitate. Saying yes to life, yes to knowing it’s completely out of what I am used to. Little did I know the deeper meaning that drives so deep into my heart. On Tuesday I was grateful to wake up with air in my lungs, serenaded by three rambunctious children who laughingly wished me happy birthday as they toppled out the door to the bus stop. Thirty-eight trips around the sun, barefoot with a warm cup of coffee I take a deep breath in and try to savor this moment longer but realize time always goes quicker when you have a flight to catch. Within minutes they are on their way to school, and I am scrambling for my shoes, into the car, and on the road.
The facility is nothing shy of perfect, it’s beautiful and as to be expected from Porsche aesthetically appealing with her clean lines and I hadn’t even made it through the guard gate at that point. The building is romantic as any movie one can imagine, the history and nostalgia at every turn. Walking on to the terrace and actually laying eyes on the track I was left feeling this connection to the track before me. It was like that feeling you get when your eyes meet with someone you are attracted to, that spark that speaks to your soul and brings a smile to your face.
I was given my own personal instructor who was this brightly colored Aussie who in no time at all had me in the seat of 911 Carrera 4S that was as cheerful yellow (I should mention my first car was a yellow ’73 VW Thing…slightly different in the horsepower). My instructor was there to make sure I didn’t crash this vehicle that is worth almost my mid west house, and keep me out of trouble and get me into enough to push my limits.
There were two stipulations.
1. When he said brake I had to brake (and if he yelled it brake HARD lol)
2. I was not allowed to look in the rearview mirror, and in fact, he turned it from my vision
As I started her up and drove closer to the course I was met with a rush of emotions. The second stipulation suddenly became clear as the winding road ahead of me came more in my sight. Whatever road I traveled onto this point in my life, did not matter. This road ahead of me filled with obstacles that would make me lose control, teach me how to recover, test me beyond my comfort zone, and a road that would allow me to find myself….was not dependent upon looking what was behind me, ever. I hope I never forget that defining moment as long as I live. That aha moment that slowed time was sped back up to reality with my instructor saying, “Whenever you are ready.” I could feel my eyes becoming more wet, my heart leapt and my foot was to the floor… I gave myself permission to not just move forward, but leap, race, sing, laugh, wildly and boldly down the track.
In the middle of a warm summer’s day, on the final approach to Atlanta airport, planes overhead, I was able to embrace on a deeper meaning what this imperfect journey I am on is about. It’s to live, to stop holding back, to stop apologizing. I was raw and not filtered at all, cursing, laughing, squealing, and plenty of snorting in the eruption of laughter. My soul was dancing with the present and I found a little bit more of that girl I was from long ago.
It’s with a lump in my throat that I am typing through the tears building in my eyes, the road, was a birthday gift. It’s something that didn’t come in shiny paper and bows, it came from a road long travelled and a lesson to not look back to keep looking forward to the road ahead, whatever that may bring. The laughter, tears, joys and great rebellion, it’s all a part of the great romance of a thing I call my life.