I recently bought a motorcycle. It’s an old Honda Magna, one of the hot rod bikes I remember from my younger days, not exactly what I was looking for, but a respectable cruiser nonetheless. Getting a motorcycle may have something of a midlife-crisis feel to it, and perhaps it is. I am not, however, getting a bad toupee and wearing gold chains, trying to present myself to the world as cool and hip. That boat sailed quite some time ago, and I wasn’t on it.
It has much more to do with reconnecting with who I once was. Starting when I was 17, a motorcycle was my preferred mode of transportation for about 10 years. I loved the sense of freedom. Shortly after marrying an EMT/Emergency Room nurse and moving to California, I gave up the motorcycle for safer more practical transportation. It is something I have always regretted doing.
When I put a couple of the main characters in a story I was writing on bikes and began going into great detail about the joys of riding, I knew it was time to get back in the saddle. I don’t think I fully appreciated how much I really missed riding. I don’t want to get too pretentious with my Zen-like musings here, a motorcycle is just a machine after all, but there is something very liberating about riding one.
In a car, you are sheltered, protected, and insulated from the outside world. With the windows up you cruise along in climate controlled comfort, listening the radio, talking on a cell phone, and generally existing in your own little world. On the bike, things are different. The wind is in your face, the road is rushing by inches from your feet. There is no cell phone, no radio. You are more acutely aware of your surroundings, more immersed in the here and now. There is an element of being grounded in the present moment that is very lacking from the rest of my life, and it is a deeply satisfying feeling.
Already the weather is turning cool here, and it won’t be long before I have to garage the thing for a while, but for the moment I am enjoying the hell out of taking to the road on two wheels again. It is a simple pleasure, but those are often the best kind.