“When you’re driving the car, don’t grip the steering wheel for dear life; imagine it’s a ring of canaries. We don’t want to kill the canaries. Drive accordingly.”
That was a direct quote from Kevin Buckler, owner/CEO of The Racers Group (TRG), who has been a fixture in Porsche club and pro racing for over two decades. I had the opportunity to take part in a master class with him at a driving event for Porsche Club Racers at Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan quite a few years back.
Right now, some of the readers of my blog are scratching their heads in complete confusion as to:
a) why the Hell I am talking about race cars;
b) how the Hell I’ve failed to mention I have raced cars;
3) when I’m going to explain myself.
Never fear, the ‘splaining is here.
I was thinking about Buckler’s canary analogy as I was driving my little Honda Si down one of my favorite roads near my home today. Yesterday’s snow had been cleared, and I was able to navigate the 3/4 mile run on “the race line,” which is code for “your ass is getting a ticket for improper lane usage if a cop sees you doing this.” I’ve never been one for following the rules.
The short version of the race line is this: the quickest means around a race course allowing for the maximum attainable speed. That does not mean following the curve of the road; it means drawing straight lines between points. When you’re on “the line,” your car just does its thing; it’s stable, the tires are at the limits of adhesion and still grip the road, and you don’t have to fight the wheel. I used to tell the racers I’d coach that it’s as if you’re allowing the car to do what it’s going to do, and you’re just steering the canaries. (Of course, I’d already explained the canary reference to them, otherwise they’d think I was a total nut job. It was bad enough a girl was their instructor).
Life is like that car and the ring of canaries. When things seem to be falling into place with relative ease, it simply means we’re doing the right things, setting the right goals, and taking the right line. We don’t have the white-knuckle death grip on our steering wheel; we’re not fighting our job, or our spouse, our circumstances, or our life.
When we muscle ourselves to fit into some cookie-cutter, keeping up with the Jones’, I should be doing this because everyone else is doing it kind of life, we’ve killed… the canaries. If we have a strangle hold on life, we end up squeezing the life right out of the life we’re destined to live. It’s alright, read that line again. It’s a noodle-baker. I wrote it and I had to reread it to be sure it was logical!
The next time you’re in your car, see if you’re killing the canaries; if you are, it’s a telltale sign of bleed over from other aspects of your life where canaries are also being squished. Check it out. It’s true. I wouldn’t steer you wrong. Promise.