A technique Erik has learned a long time ago makes him a definition of calmness. His number one rule in life is to control his breathing. When you see Erik, you see him breathing, - literally. Through his nose, then letting the air out of his mouth slowly, deliberately Erik is savouring each breath like it was a precious delicatesse. A precise exercise that allows him to take his time to choose his thoughts, his words and actions, and then to be present. Being present is his rule number two. I learned this in a disturbing way when I attended his 60th birthday reception at My Garage.
Class-of-its-Own's Max Noble spent a few days with the eight-time car stunt world record holder, making skid marks and stunts at Swedish race tracks defying the laws of physics, yelling "HELL YEAH!" and getting spiritual (gotta share the wisdom!) and figuring out if Erik W. has what it takes to become a grown man.
Already at My Garage’s parking slot I realize that this is Erik’s territory. The parked cars vary from the latest convertible Roll’s Royce to racing Ferrari’s with sponsor logos tagged in them in what I always found to be pure blasphemy, ruining godlike designed, iconic cars, taking attention away from what matters, the joy of seeing true perfection in a real life. But these cars are toys and My Garage is Disneyland for petrolheads. Erik is a eight time world championship in car stunts and loves drifting. Drifting is an act of art in motorsports where the driver aims his car at high speed at a wall, - sidewise and misses it, often with tiny little margins. Good drivers do it with a meter or half a meter margin, Erik’s stunts are counted in centimetres.
Drifting is not for the wussies, faint hearted chickens or those who are nursing, or pregnant, or may become pregnant. If you have any trouble experiencing any epic, you may not wish to witness or try to drifting, as it will make you a fifteen-year-old school kid, yelling “YEAAH”, high fiving your bud and possibly looking like you had just seen the saviour of the world appearing from the tire smokes, - in slow motion of course. It is juvenile, it serves no purpose what so ever than to mesmerise, hypnotise and blow your mind off. The parking place is full of circled tire skid marks from Erik’s stunts and I am excited to see what kind of cars are inside My Garage and to learn what kind of legend Erik W is.
Erik is not the first person I meet at the reception, nor the second or the third. In fact I couldn’t spot the man of the day at all the first five minutes. Then I see him far away from the podium and microphone, listening intensively to one of his guests talking. Erik looks directly to his guest’s eyes, not flickering, not paying attention to the eclectic scenery or to other people. He is completely present and the guest enjoys his attention. I should have learned this immediately, but I didn’t. Erik takes people in one by one. He respects each and everyone like she or he was his own grandparent. With love and respect in focused manner. He mannerism tells that “I am here with you. Now it is your time to open your heart.” One of the programs Erik does is called Hearttalk where he helps people to find and define their unique resources and how these can be used to create happiness and better life quality.
I find Erik later on at the bar, backstage that he seems to prefer, listening to another guest, and I decide to introduce myself finally, but the talk seems to go on forever. Erik has not moved an inch, not allowing me to get his attention. Erik is statue-like, not moving, hunching over bar desk, his back towards me and I am now very close to him, maybe 40 centimetres from him, within his very personal space, but he hasn't noticed me. I wait another minute or so, standing just next him, feeling stupid and I decide to tap his shoulder. I do three or so short taps on his right shoulder. Erik doesn’t react at all. This has never happened to me before. It is a rule, a survival instinct when something touches you from the blind ankle, you turn to look at the source of touch. But not Erik. I make a note that my taps very not light, but normal, firm taps, so it could not have gone unnoticed. I am baffled and I wonder for a moment if he had seen me before and I was not welcome. Maybe he was giving me the royal treatment and ignoring me? I should have known it better by now. Erik controls not only his breathing, his words, his actions, but also his reactions and most remarkably the universal human instincts. The fear of unknown, in this case me invading his personal space, has been programmed away and Erik’s mind was free to pay attention to his one and only chosen target at the moment. Erik lives focused life. Later on, when I was interviewing Erik, he said that he didn’t know who tapped his shoulder and he seemed baffled if it had happened at all. Erik is present.
Erik has as mentioned eight world records in stunts and that is impressive. And this was important to Erik in his past. To impress others. To understand Erik W we need to go back 50 years or so in time. “I know exactly when it happened. I was playing football with my friends and wanted to do good. Finally, I scored a goal and I thought that would impress my friends. But they booed and called me braggart. I didn’t understand it at all.” Telling this tiny little incident makes Erik still emotional. “My self-confidence was not high and I wanted to impress others.” Fear is a powerful emotion and I agree with Erik that most people let fear to dominate their thought processes, leading not to live their lives to their potential. Erik lived the life on the edge of fear of social disapproval and with a huge drive to impress the very same people, leading him to not to talk, but to perform in most dramatic and striking ways, driving a car 126 kilometers on two wheels and winning the worlds hardest motocross race Grand National, twice.
Erik is a bit of a mystery. He is reserved, yet welcoming. Erik's mind is built like turtle's torso, wearing an extremely strong protective shield, defined by slow, yet determined process and expressed with thoughtful curiosity when feeling safe or maybe it is just that he gives his dedicated time before reacting to outer impulses. He is not easy to read and I am more than happy, in fact, a bit relieved, to read his short facebook message about the first draft of this text that Erik had for review "Excellently written and with a sense to make it exciting - you are good my friend - would like to give you a ride in my drift car at Sturup race track". On Danish Championship day. I can see myself sitting in a custom made drift car next to the iconic stunt man, him being completely calm, counting his breaths and making the precise, calculated gear shifts, man becoming one with the machine, motor pushed to the extremes, me yelling terrified, excited curse words, trying desperately to keep some dignity and NOT to wet my pants.
To be continued...
Your true and loving portraitor,