Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

How dare you pass me!

Ego is a heck of a thing.

Even as I mature into my thirties and give less and less care about what other people think; even though I drive a six-figure car that’s easily in the fastest top 1% of all the vehicles on the road - therefore no reason be self-conscious at all, certain moments can still momentarily awaken those base and rabid emotions.

Case in point this past weekend when I was doing my usual drive on the mountain roads in the GT3, going at a reasonable clip: not enough for jail time, but definitely faster than the posted speed limits. Suddenly I noticed in the back mirror two cars coming up rather quickly onto my tail, and soon I became a mobile roadblock to their desires to go faster. Had it been my younger years in a similar class of machinery (an impossibility, but indulge me), I would have eagerly taken the challenge and sped up into pseudo race against them. Me at 31, highly cognizant of my mortality, cannot be tempted such foolishness.

So I kept to my pace, and at the earliest passing opportunity (thank goodness these guys weren’t assholes who pass over a double-yellow line or in a blind corner) allowed them to by. The leading car was what looked to be highly-modified Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, while the follower is a current-generation Chevy Camaro. No harm no foul: if they want to go triple digits on these mountain roads, I’m not about to play citizen police. I’ve encountered those sorts of people too, and they are I would say equally as dangerous as those who overtake illegally.

I was ready to move on my merry way, but for some reason, feelings of embarrassment and anger started to well up from within. Those guys must be laughing their asses off thinking I’m some chump who can’t pilot a 911 GT3 to its best ability: “Look at this guy, all money and no skill!” (the no skill part is very true) In turn, I was seething over their audacity to pass me with their lowly cars that are not only slower on spec than the GT3, but when combined is still worth less than my German sports car.

Needless to say, my ego took over; I had brief thoughts of chasing these guy down, though thankfully those feelings were indeed fleeting, and I was able to detach from the situation and calm myself down. The fact of the matter is the two drivers wanted to go faster than me, and they passed me in an objectively very safe manner. There’s really nothing to fume about, but something about the ego’s inability to accept slights, especially those pertaining to manhood like who can go faster in a car.

I’d thought owning one of the best driver’s car ever produced would alleviate such juvenile tendencies; there’d be no need for comparisons and battles. It seems it may in fact exacerbate situations: last thing anyone wants is to look utterly stupid inside an expensive car. The ego probably wouldn’t have reared its head had I been driving a Honda Fit.

As always, a work in progress.

I’m just running in the 90s.

Don't dream it's over

This past weekend I enjoyed some lazy time doing nothing substantial by watching Initial D Fifth Stage. I’d realized that while I’ve seen the first four stages of the anime multiple times, I’ve yet to rewatch the fifth series since it first aired all the way back in 2014(!). As one of the three major seminal products in inspiring my passion for cars - the other two being Gran Turismo video game and Top Gear television program, I figured it was a good time as any for a revisit.

Every time I watch Initial D I am overwhelmed with a desire to just get in the car and drive. Good thing my current car is parked quite bit away from where I live, because to be under the influence of mountain road drift battles and effervescent Eurobeat music while piloting the Porsche would not be the best mixture for a good outcome. I’d begin to think myself as the master of the mountain roads and go way beyond the limits of safety; definitely don’t want to end up like this guy.

Anyways, as I was half way through the anime marathon, my mind couldn’t help itself and wandered to the future some hours later when I’d have finished watching the entirety of Fifth Stage. I then started feeling sad that this current happiness of rewatching a beloved anime will soon be over and I’d be back to the harsh reality of having to prepare for work the next day. Indeed, why am I upset about it being over when I’m still in the middle of it? If doing something relaxing and fun is going to make me feel bad afterwards, then what’s the point?

This experience isn’t new: I can remember being at concerts and feeling upset midway through that this moment of bliss will soon be over.

This tendency of mine to feel sad about happy things ending is definitely not healthy. I’d get detached from the present and unable to immerse fully in what is suppose to be joyous activities. Furthermore, I don’t think it’s productive to allow my base state of happiness or feeling to be affected by things I do, whether it be something leisurely like watching television, or something burdensome like the weekday work. The constant up and down would be disastrous for my mental well-being, when all I really want is peace.

Emotion is good and welcomed, but not when it comes at the expense of being in the moment, and feeling melancholic about something happy that will be over in a few hours. As I’ve said many times, things like this is a constant work in progress.

My brother’s in Oregon.

Grace for myself

In my seemingly never-ending quest to optimize my sleep – because proper slumber is foundational for everything else in life – one of the weak points I found that’s preventing me from falling asleep quickly is the tendency to think and agonize over the mistakes made on that particular day. For sure some days are better than others, but when it’s really bad, I can be awake in thought for hours before finding reprieve.

It’s easier said than done, but I have to let the mistakes of the day go. I cannot mentally beat myself up over with whatever I wasn’t satisfied with during the day, not in the least because it’s robbing me of precious sleep time.

The only thing we can do each day is try our best.

As long as I can answer in the affirmative to the question of “did I try my best today?”, then that is good enough. Mistakes are going to happen: no one is perfect, and as we go through our days there will be words we should’ve said or action we should not have done. The perverse beauty of it all is that we can’t go back to change any of it; what’s done is done, and reflecting on it in bed whilst staring at the ceiling is not going to alter any outcomes.

Not to say we shouldn’t review the contents of our day and how we can make improvements, but the time for that is not the moments just after you get into bed. Do it perhaps on the commute home, or in the shower; there ought to be a demarcation line in the evening where you resolve to change whatever needs changing for the future, and will then cease thinking about it.  

Have a bookend to the day: I am thankful for what it was, and shall give grace to myself for the things I’ve done wrongly. After that, the best course of action is to receive enough recovery from a good night’s sleep, and then attack the next day.

You may not know that may be all I'll need…

I need a break from work

I’m very much looking forward to Thanksgiving, partly because I’m taking the entire week off from work. In requesting the time off from my supervisor, I realize it has been since the beginning of January I’ve actually taken vacation. It wasn’t that I did not have enough accrued time to take, it’s just that without anywhere specific to travel to - and saving up money for the next car - there was no reason to get away from work. Simply keep stacking up the time and save it for a later date.

But I’ve come to the realization that even a periodic staycation at home is a great positive towards well-being and absolutely crucial. I didn’t even know I can get burned out from work; I love my job and it’s the best thing to happen to me career wise, but going nearly a full year without a solid break turns out to be not the best of ideas. It’s good to switch out of the daily grind and routine for some mindless, unscheduled fun.

Whenever I return from traveling I always get renewed energy and enthusiasm towards work. The change in perspective for that week or two away keeps me grounded and grateful to have a career that enables me to take time off to travel to beautiful far-flung places. I think of the many people in jobs who don’t get vacation time or if they do aren’t paid for the days away. How lucky am I? Therefore when I go back to work I make sure to earn this privilege through my performance.

So what’s on the docket for Thanksgiving week? A bit of Fall cleaning is probably in order, given the state of things continually stacking up in my room. I will be attending the San Francisco International Auto Show for the first time in two years (travel plans prevented me from going, coincidently), and I’m excited to look at some new cars in close scrutiny. My brother is headed off to LA so I might commandeer his MK7.5 Golf GTI and finally get round to writing a review for it.

Most of all there will be lots of Red Dead Redemption 2 action in front of the television. I’ve purposely (and painfully) held off playing the critically-acclaimed title everyone is crazy over until I’ve got a large immutable chunk of free time. Thanksgiving week shall be that.

Not a break from work but rather a break during work.

Not a break from work but rather a break during work.

Money doesn't solve everything

I am extremely shocked and sad at the news of Anthony Bourdain killing himself this morning. He had what I and many others consider the dream job: traveling throughout the world and eating amazing food, yet plainly that wasn't enough. In the same week that Kate Spade also committed suicide, it goes to show that money, fame, and power can't possibly solve all of life's problems.

People that don't have money or power can't fathom the possibility someone with those things can still be dissatisfied with life. The usual rebuttal to the maxim "money can't buy happiness" goes "I rather be unhappy with lots of money"; well, Bourdain and Spade were obviously quite unhappy while having lots of money, and it led to death. 

Is that what you want? 

It's easy for the have-nots to imagine having unlimited funds to satiate wants would lead to a happy life. It indeed feels wonderful to buy material things and obtain various luxuries of life, but it's fleeting. Demons that existed when you are poor don't suddenly go away just because there's a large influx of cash. 

I've been there. 

In 2013 I felt like luckiest boy when I purchase my then dream car (Subaru WRX STI). I'd spent the preceding years saving up hard and it was a personal victory I was super proud of. The euphoria did not last however because in 2014 I fell into depression due to various reasons. Having the trappings of a nice car and a stable job did absolutely nothing to prevent it from happening. On paper I should be incredibly content with life, but I obviously was not, even if I wanted to be, 

Reading and traveling retrieved me from my rut. 

So it's from personal experience that I can readily see how someone like Bourdain who seemingly has it all can reach a mental place where continuing to live became untenable. It's truly sad. 

My kind of morning rays. 

My kind of morning rays.