Grandma and the Go-Kart

8493676_sSo who knew that go-karts could be spiritual? Not me, for sure.

For years, my son has talked about go-karts, and I have always been a little surprised at his enthusiasm. My righteous mind said it was just a lot of noise and unnecessary pollution.

Recently, I had the great pleasure of sharing time with my son and his wife and their two active and delightful children. We stayed at our family’s cottage on a small, deep and peaceful lake in the North Country, a place I’ve been almost every summer of my life. I am completely content to laze away my days reading on the porch or relaxing on the dock as the kids romp around in the water. It’s my idea of heaven.

But Thursday was gray and drizzly, and they decided it was time for a field trip to a go-kart track near Alexandria Bay. I went along only because I wanted time with the kids, not because of the go-karts. I fully expected just to watch.

When we got to the track, though, I changed my mind. We all strapped on our helmets, big round clumsy things that made us look like outer space creatures. Then we clambered into the low-lying, broad-based go-karts, one kid with each parent, Grandma alone in my own machine. The track helper started us up one by one, and off we went.

Before I had time for second thoughts, I was hurtling around the track, laughing so hard I could barely steer. I’d never driven so low and close to the ground, or so fast. I was speeding along the twisting track, my hands clenched on the tiny steering wheel, the loud engine roaring behind me, and my laughter as loud as the engine. I seemed to be going incredibly fast but couldn’t catch up to my family, who kept disappearing around the next curve. Laughing and laughing, I drove as fast as I could, taking the turns as they came because there wasn’t anything else to do, until finally I pulled back into the starting gate, still laughing.

Laughter. Letting go. Unexpected joy. I don’t pay enough attention to all of this as valid spiritual practice. I’m so focused on stilling my mind and body, listening quietly for the still small voice within that I don’t allow myself the enormous delight of unexpected, unrestrained laughter. But out on that track, laughter was the only response, and being fully present was a given.

The spirituality of go-kart racing — who knew?

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