The greater loss

February 2, 2003

It is interesting how life intrudes, uplifts, and sets new challenges. There is a lot of correlation between motorcycles and life. On Friday I closed down a project, and watched as people I hired into the long term endeavor were given their walking papers. Saturday was an anniversary of one of the defining moments of my life. A critical change in the destiny of what I would be or become. There is a more detailed account found here if anybody is interested in the catharsis of the soul. These are all elements of the larger story.

I don’t want to talk about the pain and suffering that everybody deals with in their life from the stand point of a ugly, bald, fat, white guy. Instead I’ve always taken on a different perspective of being father, husband, and motorcyclist. Though my ex-wife would plainly refer to me as ass-hole. Almost everybody reading this list has pushed the envelope of common sensibility and challenged nature and society in some way. Death, divorce, terror, heroism, pure adrenalin rush are common threads through our little society. In some small way we as motorcyclists share a common need with those who launch themselves into space.

When I left the Marines I had lost everything that made me whole. To this day I wonder at the uncompleted tasks and challenges of being a Marine. The common thread for renewal for me is motorcycles. When I was finally able to gather the pieces of my life into some semblance of order I challenged myself and rode my bike. People told me I was crazy, challenged my veracity, eerily were silent in my presence, but I continued to ride when society said I should not. Motorcycling allowed me to clear my mind, and challenge myself. It was then a tool of healing and calm.

Adventure and challenge are never easy to explain. I think that any person who lights up a rocket and screams into the sky on a spike of heat and flame would understand. Slicing the atmosphere on my bike across the Nevada desert I have had jet jockeys buzz the highway and tear off into the ether. I’ve always considered it an immense and wonderful camaraderie. Talk about the scary feeling of jumping a dirt bike off some immense jump and nailing the landing with a parachutist and they get that diamond eyed look of understanding. There is the immense satisfaction of putting yourself against the clock whether it is the tick of seconds on the drag strip, or the tock of hours from Jacksonville to San Diego. This is a common thread between us all.

Motorcycles have always challenged me. I’ve fallen down, and succeeded in my efforts astride them. They are often a metaphor for life. When I found myself without a bike I entered into the activity of divorce. When I found happiness and love in the arms of my second wife I once again was on a bike. One does not necessarily beget the other but they run in tandem through the thread of the life I live. In my current life I see the challenges and issues of an economy that will not support my career. I see the problems that a war will have on my children. I wonder if once again I should take up the profession of arms. I understand the issues of a society trying to balance the pain of terrorism with the loss of civil liberties. When I am riding I am able to consider these issues with clarity. A motorcycle ride is my soul cleanser. I think even through the risks of annihilation a motorcycle makes me a better father, husband, employee, and citizen.

In that fireball streaking across the morning sky above Dallas I see hope. I see the sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, engineers, scientists, and people from many places. I see the kindred spirit of all who challenge mountains, oceans, and tasks full of peril. I see the challenge to modern mediocrity and dampening of spirit. I see In the tasks left undone by each person lost the determination to continue on. I see tragedy and unlike the tragedy of 911 I see hope. As long as we all can see the great good done by those who were lost we all have hope.

In the end I’m nothing more than ugly, fat, balding, motorcyclist. I’m not fast, and not near the endurance rider of many others. Non competitive to the bone I just try and have fun. With my kids in my lap, watching the evening news, and one arm around my wife I’ll point at that falling star and tell my kids there is hope for us all.

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