The value of things is not the time they last, but the intensity with which they occur.
If you watched the MotoGP season finale at Portimão in Portugal, you saw two titles decided by razor-thin margins in Moto3 and Moto2. Congratulations to Albert Arenas (who felt like an inevitability despite his tenuous grip on Moto3 all season) and Enea Bastianini (who never felt like an inevitability on his way out of Moto2 until he suddenly became one), two guys who had to fight every lap to manage not just their race positions but also their points gap over their respective pursuers. They were both enthralling races that ended with champions as worthy as any of the alternatives. Good for them.
Then there was the MotoGP main event.
You might say we watched arguably the most boring race of the season, at least since Fabio Quartararo’s Jerez double; you might also say we watched Miguel Oliveira show what he’s really made of. With clear race pace and pole position, the pressure was more than theoretical; at his home grand prix, Miguel could’ve done something stupid. Instead, there was inspiration. Where you see tedium, I see deliverance. I watch him pull out seven-tenths of a second in each of the opening three laps and leaving the petty squabble of Franco Morbidelli and Jack Miller or Pol Espargaro’s lonely pursuit to the TV crews. For a nation of 10 million people who’d never known motorcycle racing success before him, there he was doing more than sneaking by for a stolen victory in Austria; there he was doing more than any bearer of the Bandeira before him, yelling to the air with metronomic triumph to an invisible nation just outside the track doors,
I wasn’t meant for reality, but life came and found me.
The soul is a hidden orchestra. I know not what instruments, what fiddlestrings and harps, drums and tamboura I sound and clash inside myself. All I hear is the symphony.
I bear the wounds of all the battles I avoided.
And you could see those wounds healing, the Moto3 and Moto2 defeats and the (perceived) snub from KTM as Brad Binder took the second factory seat for 2020, as he reeled off lap after lap. It wasn’t even close; the cameras didn’t bother following him after five or so laps and only checked in on him periodically to remind viewers the battle was for second on down. The director’s mind was made up; the feed bent accordingly for all those who followed. So we waited pleasantly distracted. And it would’ve been hard not to feel the pride of the Portuguese watching the laps wind down. Destiny. A call from beyond. It pulled across the rocky hinterland, the rough seaside topography, swept over and down across empty grandstands where a nation sat waiting like ghosts. It pulled and it called. It called for Miguel.
You could tell, too, in the way his lap times never really let off. The precision was peerless; Morbidelli and Miller both said afterward that they never stood a chance. And as the end drew near and you started to feel like you knew what would happen, you might’ve remembered again how strange 2020 has been, how few people witnessed one of the greatest seasons in MotoGP history, how this capstone to a remarkable year possessed the uncomfortable silence, a disquieting book where a roaring tome should’ve been, how Miguel must’ve been thinking out there alone in the noise offering his finest performance amid the serene confines of the world’s best place to retire,
Everything around me is evaporating. My whole life, my memories, my imagination and its contents, my personality — it’s all evaporating. I continuously feel that I was someone else, that I felt something else, that I thought something else.
What I’m attending here is a show with another set. And the show I’m attending is myself.
I feel as if I’m always on the verge of waking up.
There is nothing one can do but dream.
I am nothing.
I’ll never be anything.
I couldn’t want to be something.
Apart from that, I have in me all the dreams in the world.