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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Why We Ride*

Hull Canyon, south of Jerome, Arizona

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat
June 6, 2010
as "Tuck Away Pieces of Joy for Later Recall"

Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey

An open road stretches before me under a clear sky, the horizon pierced by the blue peaks of distant mountains. The world glides by in unmatched grandeur. Grasslands bend in concert before prairie zephyrs. Across endless deserts, each rock, draw, and tumbleweed is starkly defined in the clear air. And in those mountains, it begins to bend, twist, and dodge, seemingly alive. Overhead, a dome of blue marks not a limiting roof, but the edge of infinity. Beneath, the engine sings its song among the trees, the steady beat of pistons pounding the pulse of life.

I am intensely alive. I have nowhere to be, and all the time in the world to get there.

Motorcycling is difficult to explain, even to other riders, a conversation that usually starts and ends with…

“You know.”
“Oh, yeah.”

The quest to capture the essence of that experience defies articulation. Oh, we can talk endlessly about sunny spring days gliding along country lanes, the air rich with the scents of an awakening world…

Or ripping through winding mountain roads, balancing the centripetal against the centrifugal on a knife-edge of lunacy.

Or racing the sunset across the limitless expanse of the Great Plains at the end of a long summer’s day.

To someone who has never ridden, understanding will remain forever elusive, hovering beyond the bounds of conscious awareness.

However, once you climb aboard the machine and take to the roads, that knowledge will become clear. Not like a bolt from the blue, but gently and subtly, like a June afternoon. As with love, it is a sense more easily felt than described. But in that moment when the Zen-like transformation is complete, the ride morphs into a higher plane of existence. The burdens and distractions of mortal life fade into irrelevancy to be replaced by a symphony of life where all five senses are engaged and working with the precision and beauty of a Brandenburg Concerto.

To those of us who ride, a motorcycle will never be just a machine, but a ticket to adventure; a way of leaving the mundane and passing through the musty wardrobe into a world of beauty and adventure; a place where possibilities are as limitless as the universe that surrounds us. The mind is cleared; the spirit recharged. More importantly, your soul, however bruised and battered, is made whole. Once again, you are the master of your destiny, instead of a victim of circumstance.

The Ride transcends the moment. It becomes a part of our past, and a template for the future. Even the memory feeds our sense of adventure.

Treasure every ride; take from each a small piece of joy and tuck it away in a secret place in your soul, a place of retreat in the face of life’s burdens. There, in that place of solace, those memories will forever free you from the prison of routine.

Don’t bother trying to explain all this to anyone; they will never understand.

But your heart will.
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