I have recently been reintroduced into the world of RC cars. Perhaps too much free time and too active an imagination has caused me to draw some meaningful conclusions about life, based on the 1/10-scale world of RC. Whasis? Man discovers relevant things about life while playing with toys? Hell yeah. Everyone should be so lucky. It makes sense that diving into a 1/10-scale world would allow one to see the bigger picture, so to speak, but the revelations that I have come to have come quite unexpectedly nonetheless. So while I was simply trying to have some fun, my unrelenting imagination turned my playtime into something meaningful. A little world with green carpet, fast cars, and danger around every corner revealed to me the simplicity of this chaotic world we live in.
My hometown track is an indoor facility, which has several advantages, only one of which is particularly relevant here. The plywood jumps and curbing can be moved around easily, making for a nearly unlimited amount of track layouts. New jumps are added, some are taken away. Backyard bashing offers this same amount of variety, as most of the time, the “track” is built for playtime and dismantled by the time you have to mow the lawn. But here’s the magic part: even though the track can always be different, we still end up running laps around it until the batteries die, all your rides are broken, or it is simply time for a change. With each lap, I try to get better and better. The same cannot be said for everyone. Some drivers seem content run wide open throttle at all times and expect the little car to make the corner anyway, as if physics simply ceased to exist while they were behind the wheel. But these meatheads are everywhere, just like in life. Maybe you see where I am going with this. Maybe you’ve already lost interest and decided to pick your nose instead of reading on. That is certainly alright with me. Members of the Wide Open Throttle club and the Snot Miners Union are not going to get it anyway.
Even though life seems to run in endless circles most of the time, it helps to realize that even though you may be running the same course time and time again, it is never the same. Tires wear out, the carpet breaks down, they moved the giant double in between the straight and the very solid pole, your car breaks down, your boss is having a bad day, or your coworker “borrowed” your last sharpie and never returned it, placing it instead in a box of four hundred and thirty nine sharpies that don’t belong to him. Even on the same course, the same job, the same home, we run laps around ourselves, and the true drivers on the track and in life try to make each pass even faster, or smoother, or easier. Occasionally, new features are added, or taken away. Maybe you get a piece of paper proving you are not an idiot, a new machine to run at work, a new porch on your house, or a new tabletop is built, the track layout is changed, or your 1/10-scale wonder of the world loop-de- loop takes off down the hill during a savage winter storm, with not a picture to prove its existence, nor a regret to be had. The next one will have footings. But no matter how many times we race around the track, no matter how many things change or appear or disappear, we have no choice but to do it again and make it even better the next time around.
It is never smooth sailing though. Not on the track, or in life. Your lap times may drop for inexplicable reasons, you may slam headlong into the pole that bears the marks of many a tiny car, your new responsibilities at work may never mean an increase in pay, or that member of the WOT club just rearranged the front end of your Subaru in the parking lot of Walmart. Sometimes, after so many laps around life, I feel like I am moving way too fast, other times as though I am hardly moving at all. We may think that a new feature or a new layout will make things better, or more fun, but when it all comes down to it, the novelty wears off long before you decide to pay attention to your lap times, and then it just starts to feel like work. The twelve year old girl standing next to you runs a full second faster than you with her RTR monster truck, and her father stills seems to think it is funny to slam someone else’s car into the wall after the straight, meanwhile in life, thirty percent of your coworkers are lazy, and the birds living in your bedroom wall have decided that an hour before the crack of dawn is when it is time to start making noise like they are chewing through the sheetrock into your bedroom. Every morning. Except Saturday. On Saturday they are at it all night. I have tried enforcing noise ordinances, being as how I thought I was their landlord, but they have claimed squatter’s rights on the grounds that inside the wall does not technically qualify as my living square footage, and as they have never been asked to leave for over twenty years, they have legally claimed the dead space inside the walls of my home as their own. They have offered to remove all the insulation absolutely free of charge to me, which is nice of them.
The 1/10-scale world may not be a perfect metaphor for life, but if the 1/10-scale world can teach us anything, it is that we are not only capable of change and improvement, but that we are also capable of flying poetically through the chaos of life, even if said poetic flight ends in an A-arm shearing collision and a baker’s dozen of barrel rolls. Lap times do not matter. Broken parts do not matter. Salary does not matter. Insolent lawyer-toting barn swallows do not matter. What matters is that we continue to run the race. That we pick up the pieces, or rearrange them, or make them better, or stronger, or faster, or more beautiful and we get out there and we try again. The best thing in the world is picking up a bunch of little tiny pieces and being able to laugh with your friends about it as you put them back together into something even more wonderful. The same is true on the track.
BY: Marc Aubin