‘Because I’m Dutch’

I could not possibly let the last weekend pass without commenting on the final Formula One race of the season. Such excitement! Such drama! And for me, a very satisfying outcome. I had seen Nico Rosberg’s father win the World Championship thirty-four years ago (Keke was always a favourite with me because he drove with spirit) and had hoped for a long time that Nico would achieve his own version.

Nico would probably be the first to concede that he is not as ‘good’ a driver as Lewis Hamilton, but what he has discovered over the years is that there is more to life than winning. After all the near misses and ‘also ran’s he has had to suffer, this year he found a way to drive with truth. He learnt to perform  according to his own strengths, abilities and criteria, instead of those propagated by the media, the fans, the sponsors or even some of the drivers. He finally found himself.

The beautiful result was what has been described as a Zen-like approach to all the races this year. Keeping his emotions private, and focusing only on each individual weekend instead of the whole championship, he has obviously found real enjoyment in driving this season, experiencing several sessions of ‘being in the zone’ along the way – which seems to have surprised and thrilled him as much as it has the spectators.

When asked about the pressure he was facing in challenging Lewis for the last race win, and how he would detach himself from the situation, he responded by asking why he would want to do that. ‘I consider it a privilege to be in this position,’ he said. To me, that speaks of someone who has found peace with himself – whatever the outcome – because he knows who he is and can guarantee he’ll be able to perform at his highest level.

Contrast that with the desperation of Lewis. For all his brilliance, I often find him hard to watch, because winning – for him – is all-consuming. I was not a fan of his tactics on Sunday in trying to make things go badly for Nico. To me, it felt dishonest and unsportsmanlike, for all that it created a superb race. I never liked such shenanigans when other ‘brilliant’ drivers executed similar dubious strategies – Schumacher, Senna, Alonso … to name a few.

Looking back over the year, I am reminded of the Aesop fable of the tortoise and the hare: Lewis going at it hell-for-leather just because he can, then resting on his laurels because he knows how brilliant he is, then sulking when things haven’t gone his way and finally having to resort to unnatural driving  in a vain attempt to force the outcome he so desires – versus Nico, working consistently at improving what he has, recognising both his limits and his abilities, learning to drive with authenticity and maturity, and consequently enjoying every moment and therefore winning the ultimate prize.

I have the feeling that, although losing the championship would have been devastating for Nico, he would have discovered enough about himself during the process to feel immensely proud and to find a way to re-balance. I wonder if the same will be true for Lewis.

This is a journey I have been on myself. Discovering how to be centered and ‘in the moment’ whatever the circumstances, relishing every experience and honouring all the emotions involved. It is this process that has enabled me to complete a novel, regardless of whether it is a ‘success’, and that has given me the stability I need to face the complexities of getting it published, when confusion and defeat are sitting just around every corner.

How come it’s taken me so long ….?

In amongst the ‘ranks’ of F1 drivers, a youngster shows us all how it’s done. Driving from the essence of his soul, with unbelievable talent, natural grace and astonishing maturity, owning his mistakes as well as his achievements, commanding his way around the track with an elegance akin to walking on water – did you see Brazil?! – when Verstappen was asked how he managed to overtake so brilliantly in all that rain and with zero visibility, he merely referred the questioner to his now well-known phrase: ‘It’s because I’m Dutch’!

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