Motorcycling is a dance. Unlike driving a car which is much more passive, riding a motorcycle is an active, engaged experience. You learn the nuances of your bike. You use your entire body to move with her and embrace the landscape you’re riding through. You are part of it… the scenery, the smells, the weather. It’s immersive and rich.
There’s also a beauty to the minimalism and challenges of motorcycling. For me it’s a natural extension of my personality, not only in my travels, but being a former equestrian and cyclist. Apparently I like riding things, what can I say?
With horseback riding, the logistics became too cumbersome to continue as I headed off to college. I lost my nerve for bicycling after too many close calls and too much vitriol from auto drivers. The subtext of these examples, though, is I didn’t love those pursuits enough to be worth the effort of overcoming the obstacles. The truth is that all of our activities have obstacles but our passion fuels us to overcome them. If you aren’t passionate about it, it will fade away.
That’s why returning to motorcycling isn’t just about conquering the fear of a bad experience… getting back on the horse, so-to-speak. It’s about feeding a passion. It’s about doing something I love that brings me joy in spite of the obstacles.
For my loved ones who struggle with the idea of me riding again, this is not an idea that necessarily sets well. There’s a knee-jerk reaction to motorcycling from those who don’t ride; an automatic reflex that sends up red flags waving and sirens blaring about how dangerous it is. When people find out you ride a motorcycle, you are suddenly subject to hearing every horror story they know. Unfortunately, it’s not a constructive practice. Here’s some insight… an open letter to every person I meet who finds out I ride a motorcycle.
But life is inherently risky. We all have something to lose everyday when we set out in the world, whether it’s for work or pleasure. We can spout statistics at each other until we’re blue in the face about what activities are riskier than others… and still never gain an understanding. That’s because we simply have different comfort zones and criteria for what is a reasonable risk in our lives. And you know what? That’s the way it should be. We all get to decide for ourselves.
It’s certainly easy to be critical of something we don’t understand, the calculated risk others take that’s outside of our personal comfort zones. But we’re all taking those risks, big and small, every day whether we notice it or not because our comfort zones are exactly that… comfortable. And, to us, unremarkable.
Of course, it’s difficult to watch someone you love go through a traumatic experience or make decisions we might call a mistake. But it’s too heavy a load to bear the weight of our loved one’s fears or for them to bear ours. Instead I hope we can accept each other for who we are and trust each other as adults to run our lives on our own terms. Anything else is intrusive and controlling, even though it’s wrapped in well-meaning concern.
Back in the saddle…
While I have no doubts about returning to motorcycling, I know I have some mental obstacles to overcome when it’s go-time. I’m going to have to dig deep to rebuild and trust my skills again. It won’t be easy but I think fellow blogger Jen Charrette of Pedal Adventures expresses the idea of moving forward better than I can… Fear Steals but Courage Heals.
For me moving forward, I will be using passion, joy, and courage to come back from this. I hope my loved ones understand that this isn’t about being stubborn or idealistic, it’s about not letting the circumstances of life crush my dreams and who I am.
Adventure on, friends…