Copyright © 2008 by Ralph Couey
A friend of mine asked me today how I came up with the name "Race the Sunset" for my blog. I think for most of us blog folk there was that moment when we were registering our foray into the electronic universe when we had to assign a name to the undertaking. It's a telling moment. A blog is a reflection of ourselves, our electronic coming-out party and we want to make the right impression. Not too braggy, not too subtle, something people can understand quickly, and more importantly, enjoy. We want our blog to be liked in the same way that we want to be liked.
I had toured some blogs, looking for ideas. The names I read ran the gamut from the silly to the sublime and every shade in between. Some, I suspected, had to be pretty easy. These were the subject specific blogs, focusing on things like cooking, crafts, photography and other hobbies. Some were extensions of a person's professional life, offering insights on the ins-and-outs of their particular vocation, or avocation. For some, the blog title reflected a particular view on any one of a million different issues from all parts and angles of the political spectrum.
My problem was that I wasn't sure exactly what my blog was going to be. I have a few passions, motorcycling being a major one, along with freelance writing. In the end, I decided to start with motorcycles and just see where my heart would take me.
In the summer of 2002, I climbed aboard my trusty bike for an epic journey (for me, anyway) of what ended up as about 5,000 miles through the American southwest. The journal of that trip can be read here.
It was on the first day, the leg from Columbia, Missouri to Liberal, Kansas, a distance of roughly 600 miles. The sun was sinking towards dusk, casting ever longer shadows. The amber-colored wheat fields I'd been riding through most of the afternoon caught the dying light, reflecting a marvelous palette of subtle shades, shifting constantly as the stalks bent in unison to the whim of the prairie zephyrs. As I closed on Liberal, I watched as the sun slid towards the horizon. I was headed in the same direction, and I suddenly realized that as the sun was going to its allegorical rest, so was I. It was a singular moment of beauty and peace, magnified by the presence of an enormous sky, a dome of azure marked here and there by clouds now becoming tinged with gold. On a motorcycle, there are no doors or roof in the way; there is only you, the bike...and God.
There on that lonely road through the Kansas prairie, I raced the sunset towards evening. It was an unmatched feeling of beauty, peace, and freedom; a moment I have since stored in the vault of my most treasured memories, to be taken out from time to time and gently, carefully held in my hands.
As I sat there in front of the computer, that memory came flooding back. And in that moment, I knew my blog could have no other name.
While I still write motorcycle pieces, my blog has become so much more. I have written about books I have enjoyed, my fascination with tornadoes (sparked by my duties as a storm spotter), baseball, football, family, 9/11, geneaology...the list goes on and on. It has become my outlet, my release...and my place of refuge. I've learned that the secret to this blogging thing is to pay attention to the world around me, and take note what thoughts occur as a result of my interaction with this all-too-often confusing and tumultuous thing we call "life."
When my heart is touched and that often stubborn door that holds the secret store of eloquence swings open, those thoughts and feelings pour forth. And it is here that I bring them, not only to free them, but to share them with others who know how important, precious, and deceptively fragile they truly are.
For it is here that I open my heart and soul.
And it is here where I find my peace.