07 April 2008

NASCAR and I-95

Ooh. A nasty combination, huh?

Today was a travel day, en route from Edgefield to Alexandria for a meeting of the Development and Church Relations Committee at VTS. Local and state roads to I-26 to I-95, stopping in Mechanicsville for the night.

I started out with NPR, listening to the spring fund raiser and a pre-recorded edition of A Prairie Home Companion, a compilation of segments from several shows all focused on English majors. Entertaining stuff. It was over too quickly. And, sadly, I hit a weak spot in the NPR coverage and was forced to find another station altogether to listen to, all the while wishing I had had the foresight to include a book-on-tape for the trip.

A couple presses of "scan" on the radio, however, and I found entertainment, new to me and fascinating. The Samsung 500 from the Texas Motor Speedway. A 340 mile race, I manged to listen to over 250 miles of it before I was unable, by pressing "scan" to locate the needed station in the Petersburg area. While I was present, the average speed in Texas was between 140 and 150MPH. I and others on our ribbon of road were a tad more sedate, honoring more than normal the posted speed limits.

The announcers made listening to cars roaring around a track interesting! Caution flags. Bumper taps. Pace cars. Points. Matching tire pressure to the track. The lingo stayed lingo for most part, but I learned that being two seconds behind the leader is an almost impossible-to-make-up lag. And, I realized just how little I know about NASCAR.

I know, Iknow, why would I want to anything about NASCAR?

The thing is, just because I'm not interested or just because I've never been exposed to something doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile or valuable. The older I get the more I disappointed I am in how closed my mind is. I seem to think (without thinking at all, actually) that everyone has or should have my values, that what I deem important is all that is important.

How dare I? How presumptuous!

In my own extended family I can call on people to tell me about history and geography; plants; medicine; writing, language use and grammar; foreign languages; piloting an airplane; travel; real estate, banking and economics; teaching; computer programming; sewing; photography; law enforcement; woodworking; fishing. I could go on and on. And, this list or, given more time, a much longer one wouldn't even begin to cover all the options.

The trouble is, when I turn up my nose at someone else's passion, I'm doing two cruel things (at least two). First, I'm limiting myself. There is nothing saying that by learning something about that passion I have to adopt a new hobby. All I need do is be open. And, secondly, truth be known, when I turn my nose up I'm dismissing not just another's passion, but I'm -- "in thought, word and deed," to quote The Book of Common Prayer -- dismissing the person as well. And, that's just not my right or my calling, not if I'm going to be serious about being a member of the human race. The more people I judge and dismiss the more alone I'm going to be.

Let's see ... who do I know who can fill me in on the intricacies of stock car racing? I could start by finding out what NASCAR stands for.

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