The secret to racing, writes Ross Bentley is “to drive over the limit at times, bring it back, hang it out there, dance with the car at the ragged edge.” I remembered Bentley’s advice a few weeks ago, while watching Top Gun: Maverick, with Tom Cruise as the aging fighter pilot who still feels, after all these years, “a need for speed.” Who still pushes jet aircraft over the limit at times, and people, too.
Later I was sketching out plans for a trip to New Hampshire, when the thought occurred to me — doesn’t everything worthwhile take place at some kind of edge? Call it the ragged edge of reality. A nebulous margin where knowledge gives way to the unknown. Where jolts of pain and pleasure provide intermittent light, like signal flares. Where the way forward, as Emerson wrote, “shall be wholly strange and new.”
In New Hampshire, the edge would lie for me along the White Mountain’s blade-like granite ridgelines, where I would attempt to climb a set of peaks without shoes or food (since that is how my practice works) — and to learn something, possibly, about myself and the world.