On Saturday, despite the fact that we haven’t seen a decent rain in weeks and our forests are on high fire alert, I lost all perspective when it came to my boots steadily filling with water. All I was concerned about was keeping my two tires on the slick roadway and having enough visibility through the rain patterns on my visor to see where I was going, which was hopefully to a place warm and dry.
In those wet, tentative moments on the bike – raindrops pelting my face and lips like needles – I had to marshal an inner strength to help me ride. I had to drum up some extra fortitude and focus on the small gratitudes, so as not to be ruled by fear and misery.
And it helped that I knew that the rain would pass. It always does. I knew my sodden clothes would dry and I would at some point get warm again. This is the way of things. Nothing lasts forever. So I held firm to those inevitabilities. I rallied. From a place within that always exists. I rallied because I had to. I rallied because I could.
My husband Mike leading the way through Glacier National Park, July 2018
To experience what it means to fall in love with motorcycling – to have an enthusiasm alight and burn within – one needs to embody certain qualities:
- An ability to sit still.
- Adaptability to weather varying road conditions.
- Fortitude (cuz it can sure get gusty out there)
- Enough openness of heart to allow the wind of a ride to clear out the mental static, replacing the day’s un-pleasantries with spaciousness and ease.
- Strength of character to both hold your own and be a good pack member.
- Steadiness of disposition.
- A go-with-the-flow approach to life enough to make it possible for the rumble of an engine beneath you to stir up a power that recharges you.
- An appreciation of what the open road has to teach and offer.
- An admiration for the capacity of a ride’s ability to alter your perspective of time and space and sense of connection.
My new bike: Crow Rider (2009 Kawasaki Vulcan, 500)
We can read social media posts, online accounts, manuals, books, and anthologies all about motorcycles.
We can buy all the proper and fancy gear and gadgetry.
We can hang out with bikers; learn the culture; adopt the lingo; rally the biker spirit within.
We can become a MC enthusiast, going so far as to adorn our daily 4-tire vehicle with a bumper sticker that reads: “My other car is a motorcycle,” so everyone is sure to know.
We can even have a bike and trick it out with bells and whistles and state-of-the-art this and eye-catching that.
But none of this can teach us how to ride.
To learn, we have to get on the bike and cruise around.
We have to get comfortable wielding it to and fro; experience the subtleties; navigate turns and winding roads; practice how to stop at red lights without lurching around like a bucking bronco.
We can only know what it is to breathe in the fragrant tangle of pine trees or a freshly cultivated field of hay while going 70-mph on a bike by doing it. There is no other proper substitute aside from bearing direct witness.
And then to gain skill, we have to keep riding.
We have to keep lacing up our boots, firing up the engine, ratcheting on our helmet, and taking to the road.
Lately, I’ve been reveling in the ability to thoroughly enjoy both staying at home and venturing out and about under the summer sun of Montana. In both instances, I am delighting in my own company. It’s a mark of inner contentment, I think, to feel at ease wherever we are. And I need not travel even one step to find where home is. I carry it within me. I am never without it.
My Happy Place(s)
My happy place is on a motorcycle, cruising at 70 over a smooth ribbon of asphalt.
My happy place is on a SUP board, on any body of water that will have me.
My happy place is being perched in front of a blank sheet of paper, with a blue P-500 in my hand.
My HP is in the woods, surrounded by elder trees and ancient wisdom.
My HP is on my meditation cushion, cultivating ease and spaciousness.
My HP is in the kitchen, preparing food to feed my friends.
My HP is next to a campfire, with a cup of tea and a guitar.
My HP is being solo on the road, inhaling music through my pores and exhaling it through my lungs.
My HP is in the Mission Lookout Tower, intimately rekindling my love affair with the sun and moon.
My HP is behind a set of drums, allowing others the chance to get their African dance on.
My HP is my humble abode, in a town I adore, close to my people.
My HP is Deer Park Monastery.
My HP is Banff National Park.
My HP is anywhere I haven’t been.
My HP is in the here and now.
My HP is doing something silly.
My HP is playing with small children.
My HP is watching fireworks.
My HP is within me.
More HP pics: