Paradise May Come in Black and White

Back in April, I wrote Dreams and Dust, a reflection on a night at my dirt track that opened my eyes to ambition. Seeing teenagers my age slip on a firesuit and run in the A-main was almost a turning point for me. It was when I realized that I wasn’t the only sixteen-year-old with the mindset of someone much older.

Everyone has a dream; whether they realize it or not, the heart is craving something greater than its host. No dream is too big or small, and no dream is logical or stupid. Anything is possible if you just believe.

The mind rules everything with an iron first, grasping the doubts, fears, lightning strikes of brilliance in its hold, occasionally letting something slip through.

Obstacles are thrown in your direction. Those are the times you learn what you’re really made of: glass or concrete.

I wouldn’t say I’m strong. Given, I have put a lot of things behind me, such as near-death experiences, heartbreaks, and stress. Yet, truth be told, my worst enemy is the one I see in the mirror every single day. My confidence waivers too often, and memories of moments I’d rather forget jump out. At a young age, I’ve pushed myself far beyond my limits, resulting in breakdowns and self-loathing. So, if I had to describe myself, ‘strong’ wouldn’t be on that list. Other words that wouldn’t make an appearance: comfortable, methodical . . . prepared.

Then, for an instant, the world drains of color. All the problems, emotions, second-guesses? Gone. Just midnight black and pure white. Dreams and illusions.

A dream isn’t a true dream until after it is reached, when you look back and realize what you accomplished. Pat yourself on the back, check it off your Bucket List, move on. Your plate has been filled up.

Black.

In this short amount of time, I’ve done some amazing things. I honestly believe I didn’t deserve those opportunities, but it’s all a part of going towards the ultimate goal. Nevertheless, it happened. Many people won’t get to do what I’ve done in their lifetime. That’s something to be proud of, to an extent.

Some tasks have been fulfilled. Some tinier dreams have been reached.

However, it can make the larger prize seem lightyears away.

There may be a time where my heart changes its mind, cues up a different rhythm to beat to, decides writing about fast cars isn’t the career for me.

Do I want that to happen? At this time, no.

Could it happen? I’d be naïve to say it can’t.

I’m not secure with anything, including my own future. Hell, I don’t know if tomorrow is a certainty. That’s why I’m rushing into adulthood, I’ve discovered. Cross all those activities off the list before life ends unexpectedly. Become a respected NASCAR writer before I’m eighteen isn’t my intention, but it could be my outcome. The crimes I’m guilty of, trying to grow up too fast and pushing myself way too hard, have been committed without me knowing it. I’m suppose to be having fun on the ride, not fearing it.

What if I arrive at my dream’s doorstep, and it doesn’t answer the door?

White.

Things are easier in black and white, yet more questions rise. Contrast in the known.

What I know is that, in the end, I want to be happy. Even if I never get to the top, I want to smile and laugh about things that have happened. Me flubbing lines when I met Kasey Kahne, or how my mom and I sang Springsteen on the way to Mid Ohio. Those moments where you step back and analyze everything, shedding a tear at some points.

After every thunder storm lies blue sky. After every heartbreak lies healing.

For inspiration, I think, of all instances, about Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning at Daytona, the same year the track claimed The Legend, his own father. Imagine what he had to go through to accomplish that? More pain, stress, and self-misunderstanding that I will ever know. Or I think about the documentary The Rise of Kahne. If you’ve seen this movie, which follows Kahne’s history of coming through the ranks, making a reality of what he had dreamed of since he was about ten. That hour and a half will make you realize how hard it truly is to get into NASCAR. To accomplish your dreams.

I believe that it doesn’t matter if you’re fifteen or sixty-five; dreams are ageless, so chase them for as long as life permits it. You never know. Maybe it’s closer than you think.

If you don’t try, it’s lost. Maybe it was never even there. It will just rest at the bottom of your soul, waiting, weighing you down.

But, in the end, make sure you’re happy. Paradise may only come once, and it may only come in black and white.

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