Monday, June 28, 2010

Kick Start

I remember the first time I rode a motorcycle. A friend had purchased a Yamaha 360. We went to a bank parking lot to check it out. Like a parent teaching a child to ride a bike they ran along side of me as I “zoomed” around in first gear. I never got out of first gear. I rode for an entire ten minutes max before surrendering the bike. That was it. Really, that was it. After my in-depth lesson we went riding along the coast line watching the sunset on the Gulf.

The next morning, sitting in the apartment alone, as I am dangerously prone to do, I started to ponder the wonderful feeling, sitting on the back of the motorcycle, zooming along the coast. And, as you may have anticipated, I decided to go for a spin. Helmet on, key in hand I hopped on the motorcycle repeating over and over the gear sequence. I tilted the bike so one of my short legs could reach the ground while my other leg smashed down on the kick start. Oh my gosh, it started. There I sat, straddling a motorcycle that was running. Looking around to see if anyone noticed, I almost fogged the helmet’s shield with my laughter. I pushed myself out of the driveway into the street and off I went for a six hour drive, round trip, along the coast line. And no, I did not stay in first gear.

That experience could take up twenty blogs, but one very tactile and emotional memory has stuck with me over the decades. It was a simple epiphany, not exactly a spiritual awakening, but an awakening nevertheless. Riding on the motorcycle I became part of the scenery. I was the wind. I was crashing into the sunlight. I felt the highway. No longer was I watching “TV” through a car window, with your view framed by the shape of the windows. No, me - very analytical, thinks things through, and the label “risk taker” would stick to me about as well as a Post-It on an ice cube - heard the call of adventure, surrender and a touch of fun and answered “yes.” In answering yes, I stepped out of myself and became the call itself.

The keys, upon my return, were put out of my reach. A few short months later, I came home to find my very own motorcycle. After a few more coastal sunset spins we set off for almost a four month journey across the US. For four months I was the horizon, the road, the wind and the rain. I understood why dogs have to hang their heads out the window. And it all started with a simple, “hmm” and the willingness to see the call as greater than my fears.

Some days, I fear age and common sense have caused a bit of hearing loss in my ears. But let me see a motorcyclist riding down the freeway and the rider’s head is turning to take in the scenery and ....

No desire to ride again, I learned the lesson. Now, I just need to remember the kick start so I do not forget.