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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.

Monday, August 02, 2010

It's Never "Just a Ride"*

*Somerset, PA Daily American
August 21, 2010
as "Reasons to Ride"

Copyright © 2010 by Ralph Couey

The passion for riding motorcycles is as much a spiritual thing as it is psychological. A motorcycle is often referred to as “the cheapest form of therapy” by those who have given in to that special kind of seduction. But there’s a lot of truth to that statement. Most riders treasure their rides; the best escape from the sometimes crushing pressures of daily life. Part of that has to do with the concentration required while in the saddle.

There is an inherent risk to motorcycling. Traffic, road surfaces, debris, animals, changing weather, and texting drivers are all part and parcel of the danger that surrounds us. When on the road, you can’t simmer over a bad workday, or plan the weekend construction project. Thoughts of relationships, bills, schedules, or chores have no place in the rider’s head. There’s just too much going on around to allow distractions of any kind.

The uninitiated might opine, “If that’s the case, then why ride at all?”

Listen carefully, Grasshopper.

There is a side benefit of being hyper-aware of the world around. You notice things of which you would otherwise be blinded. The breeze blowing past carries with it the scents of flowers, earth, and fresh air. The bright sunshine warms the shoulders. Above, the dome of a blue sky marks not a ceiling, but the gateway to the infinite. Rumbling along, you feel the texture of the road coming up through the handlebars and footpegs. You catch glimpses of forests, their interiors dappled with sun and leaves; fields and meadows full of grass gently swaying with the touch of the breeze. As the road rises and falls, turns and twists, you and the bike are one, feeling the rhythm of the landscape. All five senses are alive, and nature gently touches that secret poet within us all.

Yes, it is poetry; but not of words, phrases and stanzas. Rather, it’s the rhyme of senses and feelings soaring in a synchronous dance.

It is then that all the stress, frustration, and anger flow from you like a stream of water over a fall. And like a quiet pool downstream, we have also found a place of solace. The waves and whitecaps that mark our turbulent lives have subsided, leaving us in a quiet place of healing.

Gently, almost imperceptibly, the spirit begins to lift, the back and shoulders straighten. The eyes regain their sparkle, and like the sunset at the end of a stormy day, a smile brings a beautiful light to a weary face.

The bike coasts up the driveway and into the garage. The rider turns the bike around because you never, ever park it any other way but pointed outwards, facing the adventure of the world beyond. The sidestand goes down, and as the hand reaches for the key, there is a moment of hesitation. When the engine falls silent, the spell is broken. The rider passes through that musty wardrobe, leaving a world of adventure and endless possibility, returning to life’s hard reality.

You can always tell when it’s been a great ride. There’s something different; a change has taken place. Behind that quiet smile lies a human reborn; recharged, regenerated and ready to climb the mountain once again.

And I bet you thought he was just out for a ride.
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