This island makes you think on

6th June 2015 by  in Daily Digest, Racing

The island has a way of enticing you into its soul, inverting your reality, and presenting you with a view of yourself that jars with your preconceived notions of who, why, what, and how you are. This process is one of the reasons that I find the place so addictive – Mona’s Isle is timeless, savage, uncompromising, iconic, beautiful, terrifying, stunning, and awesome. It’s people I have found to be similarly complex and baffling. In common with many small communities they demand impossibly high standards from their own, but more rarely, they almost all offer unbounded warmth and generosity to strangers and will regularly go to extraordinary lengths to succour those in need. Monday last saw just such an instance of Manx generosity, following an unusually vigorous storm for late May many fans who were camping found their tents, camping gear, and items of property sodden, damaged, broken, and, in the case of more than a few tents, heading out across the Irish Sea. The Manx community opened their doors and took the bedraggled, weary, and frightened into their homes, garages, village halls, and gave them all and more than they needed – and they could not conceive of a society that thought their actions in any fashion uncommon, they did what they thought only to be expected of anyone.

Writing this I’ve just realised that this communal empathy, given physical form and action, mirrors the sister and brotherhood of motorcyclists which, when unfettered takes as usual that no rider passes another in need without stopping to see if they can help.

So too, the culture of the Road Racing Paddock where fierce rivals on the track will cease work on their bike/outfit in order to help fettle another’s machine. Fans of the sport; usually riders too though not exclusively, are welcomed into that Paddock, treated as friends, respected, and expected to share in all that is Road Racing.

I’ve experienced such welcoming and integrated community since leaving the small Welsh mining town in which I was raised, in large cities, isolated communities, across Europe and Africa, and they all have one aspect in common – they value the individual and that individual’s place within the whole of that community. In short, the very opposite of Mrs Thatcher’s famous statement that, “There is no such thing as society”.

So, what happens in such integrated and interlinked communities when one of the constituent individuals is killed? We all grieve, genuinely and deeply grieve and mourn that individual’s passing, and the pain inflicted upon those whom s/he loved and was loved by.

BUT, we do not resent or decry the cause of that passing because we are linked to the WHY of that person’s chosen calling. They died doing that with lifted their hearts and souls, they strived to raise themselves to greater levels of living and experiencing, and in doing so they enriched us all. For which we give thanks.

The response of Pauline, Tony and Lou Jefferies to the death of DJ back in 2003 was an eloquent iteration of their support for what made David so special, and of their love and admiration for him, not least because he never settled for anything other than striving to be even better than already was and living life to the full.

Similarly, Bridget Dobbs, the wife of Paul “Dobsy” Dobbs was able to say immediately after his death at Ballagarey in 2010, ‚ÄúDobsy died doing what he most loved, in a place he loved and felt at home and surrounded by people he loved and admired.”

So, when we lose someone we grieve, but their death would have been sadder had they not striven, not attempted more, not squeezed every last possible drop of living out of life and all its opportunities. And in doing so we re-experience our communal bonds, enrich our lives with our fellow humans living.

I told you that this island makes you think on!

All the best, Jim.

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