May 10, 2011
Model, ME Newsletter, Vol. 4, Issue 19
I used to be quite fond of Dale Earnhardt. He’s not exactly a nemesis now, but after two weekends of free-time loss due to re-inventorying collectibles, I’ve started to wonder. I came in on the tail end of Earnhardt’s NASCAR reign. I went to my first NASCAR race in 1998 courtesy of Pepsi. I still didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. But that was the weekend before I met my husband.
Not once or twice, but three times now, I’ve taken great care to catalog the collection currently in my possession. Spanning 15 years of deliberate and deliberated purchases, I’ve recorded pertinent details. I’ve logged information on small cars, larger cars, huge cars, mini cars, trading cards, playing cards, mugs, notebooks, note cards, pencils, yo-yo’s, dinner wear, phones, radios, walkie talkies, games, books, china plates, ceramic figurines, Coca Cola machine covers, full bottles and cans of Coca Cola, candy and dolls. (Oops on the “doll” word – please substitute “Action Figures.”) Hundreds of items later, I am more familiar with the slight differences between the 1998 and 1999 #3 Goodwrench Service Plus Monte Carlo stock cars The Intimidator drove.
With the bulk of items accounted for, I’ve started on previously unaccounted for territory: posters, prints, lithographs and autographed photos. I’ve residually memorized the many angles and details of his face. I’ve silently self-remarked on his stoicism, and taken an extra-long look at the rare smiling photos.
Scattered on my floor is a multi-media, uniform portrayal of a man who really may only have existed on race day. By most photographic accounts the man was a fierce focused warrior. By most written accounts his heart was the size of every capacity filled speedway he ever drove. Therein lies some marketing genius.
Most of us work the opposite way. Happy, love filled in public; angry, sullen warriors within. We certainly sell our package, portraying ourselves in the best possible light of how we want to be. The problem is that we can’t market ourselves to GOD that way. There are no such things as hidden feelings. Maybe Jeff understood that about Mr. Earnhardt, the man he admired. I know he loved and embraced Earnhardt’s principle of quiet charity – doing for others without tax receipts or expecting kudos. I know he respected everyone’s right to privacy, and insisted on his own, but never once believed he was entitled to privacy from GOD.
No matter who someone is, or how close they can be to you, they will never see the complete picture of you the way GOD does. The corners where dark thoughts lurk, the pockets of envy, the cancerous growth of memories, compounded hurt: despicable, unspeakable things we never mention. If there were darker sides to Jeff, he never shared them with me. I don’t doubt that they were there, everyone has them. Perhaps his were just immature, or ill-formed, incomplete. Maybe that explains his fascination with the works of Stephen King – perhaps he truly had no dark corners and needed someone else’s to understand. Perhaps his corners were so deep, he found comfort there. I never asked him about the significance of the King library, so I’ll never know.
Jeff’s version of the history of his life was 99% positive, with an occasional rare disappointment casually thrown in, and quickly glossed over. Every good thing in his life was an unexpected treat, every bad thing just another temporary circumstance to weather until another good thing came along. I’ve come to realize I found my model for faith by following Jeff. Not through rigorous religious study, not through sermons or spiritual self-help books; I’ve done those things, too. Everything I’ve learned always leads me back to Jeff and the basic way he lived his life; un-intimidated by his GOD that knew him well inside and out – heart full-throttle, wide-open, just like Earnhardt in public on race day, and in private with GOD every day.
Posted by jaselin at May 10, 2011 09:48 PM