“The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein

This book really tugged at my heart-strings. As a dog lover myself, I couldn’t help to look at my own dog while reading this book. Deeper than that, there were some excellent lessons in this book about determination and insight into how we live our own lives. It reminds me of the saying “be the man your dog thinks you are.” 

  1. I’m sure my father was a terrier. Because terriers are problem solvers. They’ll do what you tell them, but only if it happens to be in line with what they wanted to do anyway.
  2. Still, I felt the obligation. I understood that, as a dog, I could never be as interactive with humanity as I truly desired. Yet, I realized at that moment, I could be something else. I could provide something of need to the people around me. I could comfort Eve when Denny was away. I could protect Eve’s baby. And while I would always crave more, in a sense, I had found a place to begin.
  3. The intense and arbitrary nature of Eve’s affliction was far beyond Denny’s grasp. The wailings, the dramatic screaming fits, the falling on the floor in fits of anguish. These are things that only dogs and women understand because we tap into the pain directly, we connect to pain directly from its source, and so it is at once brilliant and brutal and clear like white-hot metal spraying out of a fire hose, we can appreciate the aesthetic while taking the worst of it straight in the face.
  4. When faced with one of these problems, the poor driver crashes. The average driver gives up. The great drivers drive through the problem. They figure out a way to continue racing.
  5. Your car goes where your eyes go. Simply another way of saying that which you manifest is before you. I know it’s true; racing doesn’t lie.
  6. This is a rule of racing: No race has ever been won in the first corner; many have been lost there.
  7. People, like dogs, love repetition. Chasing a ball, lapping a course in a racecar, sliding down a slide. Because as much as each incident is similar, so it is different.
  8. Here’s why I will be a good person. Because I listen. I cannot speak, so I listen very well. I never interrupt, I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own. People, if you pay attention to them, change the direction of one another’s conversations constantly. It’s like having a passenger in your car who suddenly grabs the steering wheel and turns you down a side street.
  9. I marveled at them both; how difficult it must be to be a person. To constantly subvert your desires. To worry about doing the right thing, rather than doing what is most expedient. At that moment, honestly, I had grave doubts as to my ability to interact on such a level. I wondered if I could ever become the human I hoped to be.
  10. I didn’t sleep at all that night. I stood guard, waiting for the demon to show his face. The demon was coming for Eve, but he would have to get past me first, and I was ready. I noted every sound, every creak, every change in air density, and by standing or shifting my weight, I silently made it clear to the demon that he would have to contend with me if he intended to take Eve.
  11. The true hero is flawed. The true test of a champion is not whether he can triumph, but whether he can overcome obstacles—preferably of his own making—in order to triumph. A hero without a flaw is of no interest to an audience or to the universe, which, after all, is based on conflict and opposition, the irresistible force meeting the immovable object.
  12. Lock the sun in a box. Force the sun to overcome adversity in order to rise. Then we will cheer! I will often admire a beautiful sunrise, but I will never consider the sun a champion for having risen.
  13. To live every day as if it had been stolen from death, that is how I would like to live. To feel the joy of life, as Eve felt the joy of life. To separate oneself from the burden, the angst, the anguish that we all encounter every day. To say I am alive, I am wonderful, I am. I am. That is something to aspire to.
  14. People are always worried about what’s happening next. They often find it difficult to stand still, to occupy the now without worrying about the future. People are not generally satisfied with what they have; they are very concerned with what they are going to have. A dog can almost power down his psyche and slow his anticipatory metabolism.
  15. Somewhere a child accomplishes with ease that which usually takes great effort. And this child, who has been blind to his past but whose heart still beats for the thrill of the race, this child’s soul awakens. And a new champion walks among us.
  16. I understood that a racecar driver must be selfish. Success at any endeavor on an elite level demands selfishness. But for Mark Fein to say Denny should put his own needs above the needs of his family because concurrent success in both fields was impossible was simply wrong. Many of us have convinced ourselves that compromise is necessary to achieve our goals, that all of our goals are not attainable so we should eliminate the extraneous, prioritize our desires, and accept less than the moon. But Denny refused to yield to that idea. He wanted his daughter and he wanted his racing career and he refused to give up one for the other.
  17. He died that day because his body had served its purpose. His soul had down what it came to do, learned what it came to learn, and then was free to leave. And I knew, as Denny sped me toward the doctor who would fix me, that if I had already accomplished what I set out to accomplish here on earth, if I had already learned what I was meant to learn, I would have left the curb one second later than I had, and I would have been killed instantly by that car. But I was not killed. Because I was not finished. I still had work to do.

The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel


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