Mental Ditch

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It’s easy to get pulled into the ditch. I can remember in my early teens, driving my ’72 Dodge Charger around town in the winter snow, looking for snow drifts to plow through. This was a great car but it didn’t do well in the snow. Those after-dark Friday nights driving around White City in the snow would often find you getting the front-end pulled into the ditch, often due to a heavy right foot and an out-of-control back-end. Right up there on the center console, next to where your cell phone would have been had we had one, was your gloves. Someone was getting out to push.

So what does this have to do with a mental ditch? I thought you would never ask. It’s easy to get pulled into the ditch of negativity. Sometimes it happens faster than we can react and we find ourselves sliding into a bad attitude or mood. Despite how we felt before it happened, it can suck you in requiring someone else to push you out. We need friends riding shotgun with us to make us understand that we are responsible for our own attitude and that we aren’t responsible for the attitudes of others. And besides, they are willing to get out and give us a push in the right direction – just like we would do for them. Literally and figuratively speaking.

But there are times when even my motorcycle can’t get me out of this mental ditch I find myself in. The best people in my life know when I need a push.

We are at this point in the year where I normally talk about riding my motorcycle and all those wonderful thoughts that roll around in this pretty little head of mine, and believe me those blogs are coming. But there are times when even my motorcycle can’t get me out of the mental ditch I find myself in. The best people in my life know when I need a push, and will gladly get out and give it all they have. After all, we have to be home by midnight.

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Unpacking for the Ride

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There is a reason you can only carry so much on a motorcycle. When we get on our bikes we are supposed to leave our baggage by the side of the road and put as many miles between us and all those things that pile up in the corners of our mind. We all know that riding gives us the freedom to let the weight of the world disappear (at least for a few miles), and if only for a little while we know things will be okay. So what do we do with all that stuff?

If you live by the rules of the road where “you can’t take it with you,” then what do you do with it? When I’m rolling down the highway on my motorcycle, I use this time to sort through what is really important and file it away by priority. I let my mind wander and I give myself permission to think about what I want to think about. The few things I have weighing on my mind that suddenly seem less important simply fall off the back of the bike. The ride is my way of working out the kinks and clearing off my desk, otherwise, it just keeps piling up and nothing gets done. But I’m lucky as I can do this while riding to and from work.

There are rides where we have a hard time leaving all of that stuff behind. We get out and twist the throttle only to come back and find our saddle bags are still full with all the frustrations and stress we started out with. Maybe the ride wasn’t long enough or we headed in the wrong direction only adding to the load that we so wanted to lose. Not for a lack of trying, but more of the wrong frame of mind. Just as one meditates or seeks therapy, results may vary depending upon your attitude. Just like taking the family on vacation, loading the car before the trip is easy – it’s when you get home and the car is a mess and you have more packed in the trunk than when you left. You forgot about the great time you just had because now it’s over and the real world is sitting in your driveway waiting for you to pull up to the house to welcome you back.

Let’s be real here. You don’t have to have your bike loaded to the mirrors to feel the weight of what’s pulling you down. It can be something as small as that cell phone you carry your entire life in. Of course you should take it with you if the ride is going to be of any length, but put it on silent or turn it off. Having it vibrate in your pocket is only going to mess with your head until you pull over and check it out. It can wait. You can wait.

Take the time to unpack before the ride, you will enjoy it that much more.