Monday, January 22, 2007

Fork in the Road

I'm travelling back in time a few days. We experienced a couple of heavy snowstorms. Heavy for us, at least. Cold, clear days followed on the heels of the snow. In places where the sun had touched the snow melted. Shaded areas stayed snuggled under their powdery blankets. For probably four days the mercury never rose above 30 degrees (f). When I took this picture it was 23 degrees. The high that day was 27.

I was going to write that circumstances allowed me to ride for fun a couple of times. That's not really true. I made my own opportunities. A person needs to steer their own ship as much as possible. Once in a while currents take us where we might not choose to go. We can fight them or not. Depends upon the cost of the fight. That subject could take up a month of posts. We'll bypass that option for now. These rides were my time. I would go with the flow but choose which currents to follow.

As time goes on I've noticed some differences in myself. Other than the physical deterioration, that is! I've become a lot less focused on "destinations". When I have the choice I tend to pick "directions". It's true that we have to be certain places. Why let the "destination" make us miss out on the "journey"? We'll get to where we need to be either way. Will we arrive with a chunk of our life lost? Or will we arrive with some new treasure? It applies on a ride. It applies in life. I think I'll write more about this in a future post. I've been doing some reading about Zen. Spent a lot of time thinking about how it applies to riding. Some of us talk about this relationship. I think I'm getting close to figuring it out.

For this ride I dug out of the snow and picked a direction. We only had two restrictions. Sophie would stay on pavement. We would avoid main roads. Other than that, we headed East.

Mostly there wasn't much to write about. Hours of enjoyment. That pretty much sums it up. So why post it? Think about not caring at all where you end up. The total purpose is to enjoy each and every experience of the journey. One's eyes and mind only look far enough ahead to successfully pilot the bike. Suddenly you have a whole new perspective. It's like looking at a rose as we're walking by. If our mind is on where we're trying to arrive, the rose will always be just another flower. Slow down, turn around, bend down, and really look at the bloom. Soon we're awed by the marvelous intricacy of the petals and parts. We notice how the color isn't really solid. Subtle shades and progressions are evident when we look closely. Weird talk for a Warrior, isn't it? Warriors don't have to be all "guts and glory", you know!

Riding has more and more become my way to slow down, turn around, and bend down. Society's getting more frantic all the time. Great haste goes into meaningless endeavours. Several of you have commented on this. This person cut me off. They endangered a bunch of other people. Why? To get to Wal-Mart two minutes earlier. Commuting on a bike helps a lot. Sometimes I need extra inoculations of vaccine. Rides like this one give me that proverbial "shot in the arm". I'm building immunity against "frantic"!

Back to the ride. Here's a couple of examples that illustrate my point.

I literally found a "fork in the road". I've always loved Yogi Berra. He stated that if you came to a fork in the road, take it. I couldn't literally take this fork. I do, however, own it digitally now. This thing is proportioned quite well. There's some intricate scrolling on the handle. I'm snapping some photos. A voice issues forth from the house across the way. This is the only house for a long ways. The voice belongs to a female. She's offering to take my picture with the fork. I explain that the bike is the star of the show. Next to her is a little Daschund sporting a bright green collar. His collar sports the logo of the University of Oregon Ducks.

The woman is around my own age. Standing in the freezing cold we talk. She starts out telling me how her husband made the fork. The conversation turns to deeper things. I soon find that this woman cares about what's happening in the world. She is intelligent, aware, well read, and articulate. It's refreshing compared to conversations with most people. It is only a small interlude in the larger picture of a day. Still, it was a jewel in its own right. Something that would never have been discovered had I been focused on a "destination".

Later on I stopped at Coastal Farm and Ranch Supply. You can guess by the name what kind of store it is. My cowboy heart is comfortable here. Parking my fiery steed outside I enter the store. First thing on my mind is relief. Morning coffee combined with a couple of hours of cold air. Well, you know. I lingered a while to warm up. My wanderings led me to the back of the place. This establishment sells pellet stoves. A display model was cranked up. To most people is was probably just a stove. To a freezing motorcyclist it was heaven.

I was afraid to spend too long soaking up the warmth. More time spent feeling the wind chill awaited me. Reluctance to face it was building with each passing moment. Oh how glorious those minutes were, though! A pellet stove is a simple thing. Simplicity can hold a universe of wonder and pleasure. I'm convinced most people never experience this. A bike is more than a machine. It is a portal, an entry point to another world.

Getting onto a bike doesn't automatically take us to this world. It wants to but needs our input. We are the ones who must seek out and specify the path. Riders will come to forks in the road. There will be two choices. Avoid the road labelled "destination". Seek out the one labelled "journey". You'll still get where you need to go. Only you'll arrive much richer.

Miles and smiles,



Combatscoot said...

I'd hate to get to Life's destination and realize I'd missed the journey!

Steve Williams said...

That's a mighty nice fork. We just don't have that sort of thing around here. Or maybe I'm not seeing it.

In addition to direction I always think about time. I can't get away from it. The focus on time, having to be somewhere by a certain time bothers me. At least when I am riding. I dream of being free and that means being untethered by time. I don't think that will ever happen. I like to think in retirement I can just wander off but when I think about it my entire life has been bound and constrained by time. So I try and play within those bounds.

Thanks for the reminder of riding being a way to slow down. Maybe to be unfettered just a while by time.

That really is a cool fork.

irondad said...

That happens more than we like to think. I've known guys who absolutely hated their jobs. They keep hanging on thinking of the great retirement they'll have. That day never comes for them. Sad. You seem to have more of a spiritual side. I don't think you'll be guilty of missing the journey.

I'm like you on the time thing. I have this internal clock that's accurate to a couple of minutes. I've worked hard to be responsible but not a slave to time.

The fork IS really cool. Since it's on a quiet back road, not many people see it.


Aaron said...

I always thought owning a motorcycle provided me the perfect excuse to leave early, take the long road and arrive at my destination late.

Of course, it also serves as an excellent way to strike up conversations with strangers by breaking the ice.

Carry a GPS with you? I wouldn't mind knowing where to find a fork in the road.

irondad said...

I don't have a GPS unit. Maybe I can con a friend with one into getting coordinates for you.