Musings on a Sunny Sunday Afternoon
07 February, 2013
Inspired by a line on a randomly seen cover of the novel The Gifts of Imperfection: ”Let go of who you think you are supposed to be and embrace who you are.”
It feels like driving a race car. Sweaty palms tightly gripping the wheel, breath held during steep turns, eyes fixed on the road ahead, face contorted with concentration.   
You are immersed in the overpowering need to get ahead, be the best, get to the trophy first, with a perpetual fear of having
to slow down and losing the race. People, places and things are nothing more than bleak blurs of color zooming by, the high-pitched squeal of your engine muffling all other sounds. You’re not sure if the distant cheer of an unfamiliar crowd that gives you bouts of satisfaction is real or imaginary.
Then, as the race continues, something or someone happens which makes you turn your head for a split second and actually try to see things around you for the first time, try to listen to the sounds coming from the outside. Before you know it, you start asking yourself: What’s at the end of the lane? How did you end up in this race car? Do you even like racing? Whom are you trying to impress on the stands? Can it be that because of this race you’ve been missing all the other things? Why are you racing in the first place? Vague memories of pre-race life as a young child flood your memory. You see a small version of yourself climb on a tricycle in some backyard somewhere, for the very first race of your life, trying to impress your parents, your peers, the teacher or that boy or girl next door. 
That’s when your hands on the wheel start shaking and you get an overwhelming urge to get out. You panic when it hits you that first you’ll have to slow down. Your brain crushes and your thoughts go rampant. Slow down?! But that’s what losers do! Once you slow down you can never catch up! You’ll lose the race!
The not-so-small voice in your head is unyielding: So what if you opt out? What’s really at stake anyway? And what if, gasp, there is life beyond the race? The one you will actually enjoy.
Enjoy?.. You catch yourself fantasizing about bringing the race car to a halt and getting out. But wait, is it really a race car or just a car? Maybe even a bicycle? Or have you been just running all this time? The bittersweet discovery brings a sad smile to your face.
And with that, the painstaking process of slowing down begins. Your body starts involuntarily moving to the exciting foreign beats heard in the distance. The scent of exotic foods makes your mouth water. The vague outlines of unknown landscapes make you want to laugh and cry at the same time. Your breath is taken away by out of this world charisma of a stranger you’d give your soul to know. Intoxicating diversity of color and sound overwhelm you. The sunshine on your skin is soothing. You close your eyes and reopen them to an absolute stillness. You’ve stopped. The race is over. You can get out.
Now all you think about is what lies outside the imaginary race car in the make-believe arena. You are full of energy you never knew you had. You heart is racing at the prospect of all the things you want to experience - on your terms, on your own time. You can smell the sweetness of freedom. You’ve never been happier, more at peace with yourself and the world.
You reach to unfasten the seat-belt but it feels harder then you expected. Your movements are slow and your body aches. Must be the long race, you think. A final look at the rear-view mirror reveals an odd reflection. It surely can’t be you because you’re not old. Not THAT old at least. You continue to stare until the reality dawns on you and then you avert your eyes. You look down at the crumpled piece of paper clutched in your hand and start blaming tears instead of reduced eyesight for preventing you from making out items on the long, unchecked bucket list.