Thursday, November 07, 2013

Comfort Zone Cages

So I wrote about being lucky to have a job where I can help people grow.  It's amazing how much harder this is to do than it sounds.  Some people are eager, some not so much.  Some flat out don't want to budge from where they are.  Others want to learn new skills or hone the ones they have but they just can't quite step out of their comfort zones.  Security becomes more precious than progress.

Think of Monkey Bars on a playground.  The contraption where you can hang by your arms and move along hand over hand.  Guess that's where the "Monkey" part of the name comes from.  So there you are, hanging onto a rung with both hands, knees bent so that your hands are your only support.  The only way to move forward is to let go with one hand and reach out.  It's amazing how many people won't let go!

Sometimes comfort zones can be good things and other times they can become cages.

In the course of writing this blog I've tried to be honest about my own humanity.  In that vein I have to admit that I've felt that feeling of not wanting to let go.  Here's an example.

I'm in a small upstairs gym at an athletic club.  One question is repeatedly bouncing around inside my head.

"How can a guy who's so graceful on a motorcycle be so freakin' ungainly on a dance floor?"

Yep, we were taking dance lessons.

Katie and I grew up as country kids.  Once upon a time we were pretty good at the Square Dance thing.  We knew a few simple steps for slow songs and waltzes.  Maybe it was something she saw on the television.  Perhaps it came up when she was visiting with her girlfriends.  You now those coffee circles where they compare notes on what they've been able to get their husbands to do?  It could even have been the fact that we're eligible for senior discounts and she felt we should learn something new together to help prevent Alzheimer's.  Who knows?  What I DO know is that one day Katie piped up and said she wanted to take Ballroom Dancing lessons.


You ever get that trapped feeling?  Katie was looking me right in the eyes and waiting for my reaction.  My gaze was locked on her face, as well.  I knew she could sense my reluctance.  I could also see the challenge in her eyes.  It was as if she was saying:

"Come on my Swashbuckling Hero (honest to God, that's what she calls me; she even has the Indiana Jones theme song as her ringer when I call her cell phone) what happened to 'I love a challenge'?

I knew whether I refused her request or agreed I'd probably end up looking like one of these. It's a nice looking mule, but still....

You've already had the teaser about which direction it went.  Being associated with a major university, I looked up their dance instructor.  As quickly as you can sign a check we were committed to eight weeks of something called the Night Club Two Step.

It was rough in the beginning.  I developed an instant rapport with the guy standing next to me on the first night.  When the instructor told us to start actually moving instead of standing in one spot I could hear him mutter under his breath.

"This is going to be ugly."

Truer words were never spoken. We were learning the two-step and I had two steps, all right.  My left foot went "Stomp!" and my right foot went "Clunk!"  If only I could have brought Elvira!  Then I'd show them graceful.

Things gradually got smoother.  I learned that the real trick to being graceful (Ok, at least not as klutzy) is to stay up on the balls of your feet.  I scored points with Katie.  Plus we've actually gone out dancing and looked pretty good, if I say so myself.   We actually have some new skills and are having fun in the process.  We may even go back for the intermediate lessons.

Part of my success was due to the fact that the instructor was not only good at imparting the skills but she was also a sort of  psychologist, too.  She had empathy for where us guys were coming from and that informed her approach.

More on that aspect to come.  Specifically on how it relates to gaining new riding skills.

Miles and smiles,


Tuesday, November 05, 2013

I didn't see her!

Telephone pole to police officer:  "Honest, Officer, I didn't see her!"

Hmmm, perhaps a Hi-Viz cat would have helped.

Miles and smiles,


Sunday, November 03, 2013


Another year of the world being forced to deal with my existence has recently been marked off on the calendar.  Each year this event triggers a time of reflection upon that which has passed and that which is still to come.  The view backwards includes blessings I've experienced.  The view forward includes thoughts of worthiness.  Many of the blessings are really gifts from others.  How do I remain worthy of receiving such gifts?  Recently, the word "legacy" comes to mind in that context.  Ocean beaches are great places for contemplation.  Katie and I spent a few days there recently.  The small size of a human compared to the vastness of the ocean  helps put things back into perspective.

I apologize if you came here today looking for motorcycling instruction and didn't find it.  On the other hand, most of us are more than the sum of our riding.  In my life a motorcycle has been a vehicle for both transportation and personal growth.  A motorcycle is not "who we are".  Riding has certainly been a large part of my life.  Riding has built character that I've transferred to my life.  I've built character in my life that I've transferred to riding.  To think about riding without a thought to the deepness of the human experience is like looking at this old house. 

One could make an argument that my high contrast black and white photo is a thing of beauty.  (At least I would! )  Once you get past the exterior, though, it's empty and rotten inside from a lack of attention.

So I return to being worthy.

My life has been blessed by the love and loyalty of my beautiful companion of 36 years.  Katie has been nothing but supportive and a true friend.  She still treats me like a prince.  (whether I deserve it or not )  I try to deserve it by being worthy of her.

Katie may be a little perturbed by my putting in this photo of her in the sunset light.  We'd been out on the beach most of the day and she's windblown.  The light however, was too good to pass up.  The photo well illustrates the contemplative nature of our visit.  All I can say is that you're beautiful to me in any condition, Katie.  I see you with my heart more than my eyes these days.

Another blessing is the friends I've made in fellow riders.  Included in those are my fellow bloggers.  Having not posted in a looooong time, it was gratifying to see that folks still cared enough to comment when I finally put up a post.  I'm blessed to have friends who notice my absence. 

Who wouldn't feel the love when a guy like Bobskoot shows up at my office.  I was outside making a phone call and getting some fresh air when up pulls this loaded down BMW.  That fact that he took the time to come see me on his trip is another precious gift.

Earlier in the year I had the privilege of visiting Dom as he completed his epic sidecar trip.  These are a couple of many gifts from fellow bloggers.  Again, one has to ask themselves how they are to prove worthy. 

This idea colors my thoughts as I contemplate the view forward.  The question is where am I headed in the future?

I know one place that we're all eventually headed for.  I've spent time wondering graveyards, too.  Always in the search for perspective.

By the time we end up here it's too late to change how we've lived.  I see names on the headstones but don't really know anything about what they left behind.  I'm ok with that happening for me, as well.  My goal isn't to be remembered.  It's to leave something of value independent of my name.  As long there are others who've received something of value from my being here I'm content. Here's a scene on the beach I captured.

You can see the father crouched behind his son as they fly the kite.  By the way, it took a lot of tries to get the guys and the crazily moving kite in the same frame!

It's this photo that got me to thinking of the word "legacy".  The father is passing along a skill to his son as they share the time together.  I believe that my own legacy will be the proof of my worthiness.

That's the great news about my employment.  Passion and vocation reside together.  I've finally come to the point where I can be totally immersed in the world of motorcycles.  I'm also surrounded by people that are overflowing with heart and great character.  Wonderful gifts that, again, require worthiness.

If I had to describe my job the preferred description would be that it's to help people grow.  Helping folks to grow is a way to establish a legacy.  Unfortunately, human nature complicates the process.

Stay tuned.

Miles and smiles,