Do you ever see that dog hanging out of the car window? Maybe you do that now, where you let the dog sit in the front seat with the window open? Can you picture him, tongue hanging out, nose up in the wind taking all the smells and light and energy? Are you like me what when you see the dog YOU smile when you pass them because you see the dogs’ smile? Does the dog’s smile make you smile?
Of course it does, right?
When I see a dog doing that, I smile because I know he’s in dog heaven. He’s taking it all in, moving at the speed of light, slobbering on the the window…and to me, that’s a little of what it’s like to ride a motorcycle…minus the slobbering on the window.
As you ride on a good day, the light and sun comes down on you and the sun and shade hit your body creating warmth and coolness. The bike cuts the air and tires gripping the pavement, moving with you like a dance. The engine beckoning for the open throttle, a little passion. The dance is leaning out over corners and challenging the hold gravity and momentum have on a normal person…because you’re not normal and you’re not doing something normal, you’re defying gravity and normal constraints. A smile often stays on your lips. You’re that dog doing something he KNOWS is not normal for him, just as riding is not normal for you…both of us know we’re being given a moment that’s pure pleasure and we’re going to drink it in.
When you ride a motorcycle there are usually a few common responses. One response is “cool” and they ask what kind of bike you have, they tell you about what you have, you share a story, and you know they’re ‘in the club’.
Another response is the yearning look in their eye of how they want/had one but made choices in their lives (or had a choice made for them) and they yearn to be back out on the bike but costs are too high for themselves or their family. These two responses are almost always from men (USUALLY, but not always)
The next set of responses are a mixed bag, gender-wise, but these responses are all based on a fear of getting hurt, or getting killed. Of this second group, It seems that everyone wants to tell you how unsafe it is and about the wreck that happened to their brother’s uncle in-law mechanic’s sister’s boyfriend that they grew up with…I hear it all the time. I could take offense to it, tell them about odds and tell them how I’m pretty safe and not an idiot on the road and how I’m always aware of what’s going on around me….
….or I could let everyone just think that I’m ok with the risk, say how the odds don’t apply to me.
I like the second choice but the first is probably closer to the truth.
Side note: As a seasoned rider, I will tell you honestly that most of us have come to terms with our own mortality and the risk we are taking. I hate to tell all of you this, but we are all going to die.
Why am I saying all of this?
Let me ‘land the plane’ with my thoughts.
When I owned a bike as a kid, I rode and loved it. Rode it til it died one day in a corn field in Lebanon Ohio, God rest it’s 125cc heart. Going through college, I had a roommate named Scott Schroeder who had a motorcycle. In the last year of our time at Ohio State, he and I talked of riding across the country when we graduated. It was a wish more than a plan because I didn’t own a bike at the time, nor did I have the financial resources for the bike…let alone a cross country trip. But that didn’t stop us from talking about it.
Six months out of college, Scott was driving his car home one night and got killed by a drunk driver. He was 24. I lost a great friend and the trip we wanted to take? Never happened.
Responsibilities and jobs and careers and girlfriends and many years later, I was about to turn 40 and that ghosts of the woulda, coulda, and shoulda’s were haunting me. I had given thought to that cross country ride over the years but felt that ‘responsible’ thing to do was wait until I had a family, wait until the kids were out of college…THEN I would get the motorcycle. Then I would do a grand adventure.
Getting ready to turn 40 it dawned on me that I was waiting for things to happen in my life before I would do other things….and if those primary events did not happen, the secondary would also never happen. When it came to the bike and trips, I decided I would no longer wait. Within a week Rick S. decided he was selling his bike and asked if I wanted to buy it. I’m not saying that the heavens parted and I heard a voice, but I knew I didn’t need to wait for a full sign from God…a hint was sufficient.
The first couple times I took the bike out, I was sure that SOMEONE was going to kill me. I thought of all the ways I could get hurt or killed…but then a funny thing happened. I didn’t die.
People are SOOOOOOOoooo afraid of dying. Supposedly it’s the second highest fear behind public speaking…which is odd to me…but everyone is afraid of SOMETHING. We even have words we’ve made up for unusual fears. Seems you would be challenged to have a fear that’s not already recorded. Lots of those fears are well founded…they keep us out of trouble, keep us from doing dumb things. Some fears are hindering us and we need to conquer those fears. They tell us most fears are never realized…we just fear certain things that we never have to confront.
In looking at my fear of dying while riding my bike, I realized I was faced with a fear that was keeping me from living, pursuing dreams, doing something that made me feel alive.
I don’t want to say that I no longer fear death…that’s far from the truth, I have a healthy fear of death and the way that I go, so if you catch one thing, catch this please.
I don’t fear death as much as I fear missing out on living.
God gave MEN a sense of adventure, of danger, and the need to confront it…to challenge death, to do something that makes our hearts beat with adrenaline…it makes us come alive. The Bible says that man was created outside the garden…was we have a need for the wild, the wilderness…even if it’s just a feeling.
If you are dying inside, if you are bored out of your mind then maybe you need to get a shock to your system. There is a phrase in the bible that says ‘wake up sleeper and rise from the dead and let Christ’s light shine over you”.
Are you sleeping? Are you the walking dead? Has life lost it’s ups and downs where you’re flatlining through it?
“Every man dies, not every man really lives.” Is a quote attributed to William Wallace. I would challenge all who are reading this to figure out what gift you have, what special talent, what seed has God placed in you…and breath life into it again.
What is it you are not doing that you should be?
What fear of failure is choking out ‘life’?
Why is it we die with so many unused talents?
So many unwritten books?
So many great humanitarian ideas?
So many curvy crazy roads not ridden?
You don’t have to play roulette, ride a crotch rocket at 120, bungee jump, run the bulls in Pamplona, swim with Great Whites…
…but to be alive is sometimes to lean out over the edge, where the air is crisp, the adrenaline keeps you awake, and you live in the present, in the juicy moments of life.
Mark Twain said “Let us endeavor so to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker is sorry”
The definition of Endeavor:
“to exert oneself to do or effect something; make an effort; strive”
In looking at this definition, where are you?
Are you striving to live…or just trying not to die?
…strive to live.
Endeavor to live friends.