Before a rapport is formed with the Wall, all of the chaotic black marks leading to it are abstract. They’re what happens when one makes a mistake, which of course, the person who has never hit the Wall would never do. That person knows their limits and probes them safely. That person knows what they’re doing.
But that person has never met the Wall, so they know nothing. At some point, the Wall must be there to receive them.
The Wall is a constant. It appears in many forms; metal, stone, concrete, leafy green. It may be so far away that it’s out of sight, out of mind. But go far enough, only so far, and you’ll find it. Sometimes, it’s right there, an immediate possibility, reminding you of its ultimatum, urging discipline.
The racing surface itself tells a story in greyscale. Some of it is polished dark by hot rubber, good days. Other areas seem pale and neglected, dirty, deserted, trying to express that there is no good reason to be at this precise point right now. Then, there are bold strokes on the background. Streaks of pure, deep black standing against the gradient, sometimes straight, sometimes looping like a cruel cursive or spearing off in impossible directions like an unknowable foreign language, but all usually leading to an acutely clear and specific moment in someone’s time. The lines lead to the Wall.
Round marks and a streak of color, and then more lines. Torn-up grass and a brand new piece of Armco. More lines.
It’s easy to imagine scenarios to which these lines could have led their owners: A family becomes strained by the proposition of a four, five, six-figure expense. Injury redirects a promising life. Simple fear extinguishes a spark.
Even if the Wall hasn’t taken anything of real significance today, the concepts of ownership, responsibility, and cost are inherent and very tangible in motorsports, and the time spent processing these relationships after hitting it for the first time may be as important as the moments before, those immediately after, or an impact itself.
Not many are lucky enough to be handed a light sentence for the same offense as has been committed here. Wherein the mistake made has a defined range of potential outcomes from minor damage to catastrophe, to see an outcome that is quite comfortably called minor damage is effectively to be forgiven.
A question this situation can raise is whether one is truly willing to face the Wall again. Once it’s known that there is ignorance where there was thought to be surety, and what was thought to be implicit cannot always be trusted, is there the clarity of focus and depth of commitment to go back to the same place, and find comfort near the limits again, this time with greater competence, without making the mistake? And if the mistake is made, are you prepared?
Perhaps that’s a personal question. After the metal is straightened, if the desire is still there, maybe the only way to find out if the right lessons have been learned is to stare it down once more.