Ramon Dominguez had a lot of time on his hands. In the dead of winter, living in a rental house in New York, his family in Delaware, riding a couple of days a week at Aqueduct, the Venezuelan-born jockey needed to occupy his time, satisfy his brain. Dominguez picked up Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth. Deemed as a book to awaken your life's purposes, Dominguez, who was well into his life's purpose of being one of the world's best jockeys, was captivated.
"It was very deep," Dominguez said. "I was so aligned with what Eckhart Tolle was saying, I couldn't put the book down. To me it was something that was very powerful."
Amazon explains the book better than I can.
With his bestselling spiritual guide The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle inspired millions of readers to discover the freedom and joy of a life lived "in the now."
In A New Earth, Tolle expands on these powerful ideas to show how transcending our ego-based state of consciousness is not only essential to personal happiness, but also the key to ending conflict and suffering throughout the world. Tolle describes how our attachment to the ego creates the dysfunction that leads to anger, jealousy, and unhappiness, and shows readers how to awaken to a new state of consciousness and follow the path to a truly fulfilling existence.
Illuminating, enlightening, and uplifting, A New Earth is a profoundly spiritual manifesto for a better way of life - and for building a better world.
Dominguez loved the book, devouring it, then he stuffed it away like a love letter from an old fling.
"I understood the importance of being in the moment, which is something I was already utilizing, but I purposely chose not to continue exploring that philosophy or reading more books, because it could very easily take away my competitive edge," Dominguez said. "It was all about being equal, that we are all the same, the ego...I said, 'No, unfortunately I need my ego here, because I'm going to be the best.' "
Ten years later, Dominguez was deemed the best, being inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. After nearly 5,000 wins, Eclipse Awards and Breeders' Cup wins, Dominguez had reached the pinnacle of racing. Friday morning, he delivered a perfect speech, combining humor and humility, like he combined delicateness and fierceness in the saddle. After the ceremony, Dominguez didn't want to talk about Better Talk Now upsetting the Breeders' Cup Turf at Lone Star Park or how he cajoled 12 furlongs out of Little Mike in the Breeders' Cup Turf at Santa Anita Park or about the three Eclipse Awards resting on the mantel, or about the George Woolf Award, the Isaac Murphy Award. No, Dominguez wanted to talk about books. Yes, books.
It's rare that jockeys talk about books, well, beyond condition books, but Dominguez is a little different than most jockeys, reading Tolle's books and trying to live by the lessons.
"He makes an emphasis on living now, which is the only time we have," Dominguez said. "I always felt guilty, when I was riding, it was not so much as living in the past, I would reflect on my mistakes all the time, maybe too much, but it was always turning the page to the next race, to focus on the next race. I didn't care if I was riding the Kentucky Derby in the next race and I was riding a five-thousand claimer, the only race in my mind was the five-thousand claimer."
Forced to retire after a head injury in 2013, Dominguez has come to terms with a forced decision. Perhaps it's Tolle's influence, but Dominguez doesn't dwell on what might have been. When the Hall of Fame called to tell him he had been voted into this year's class, Dominguez cried, as he said in his acceptance speech, tears of joy.
"I cried for a long time, like, a lot," Dominguez said. "When I was a kid, my dream was to ride racehorses, then when I started riding them, my dream was to come and ride in the U.S. Of course, in the U.S., I had my goals, be leading rider here, there. Up to the last horse I rode, it never ever crossed my mind about the Hall of Fame, never."
Hell, even I thought about the Hall of Fame as I eked out winners over jumps, but, somehow, with Dominguez, you believe his words. If you're living in the now, I guess, you're not worrying about whether you get in the Hall of Fame later.
"In my life, I try to live in the moment, perhaps too much. My wife's like, 'Oh my God, you're living on cloud nine,' " Dominguez said. "I'm here, so present, nothing comes to mind, as far, even my victories, it's just understanding my journey to the moment, just grateful to be here. Of course, I do prepare for tomorrow, but at the same time, I live for today, it's the only time."
Eckhart Tolle would be proud.