Tastes Like Chicken

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Let me explain something here. I’m not crazy. This morning’s ride to work couldn’t have started out any more normal. I’m on time, I’ve prepared myself and I have my wallet; so what does this have to do with my mental state? As I traveled down the 5 mile stretch of road between home and Skiddy, I found myself riding with both hands in the pocket of my hooded sweatshirt. The throttle was set and my hands a little cold – so they found refuge. It crossed my mind that I’m literally sitting on a 800 pound machine careening down the road with no apparent signs of control, but hey, my hands were a little cold so what do you do…

My second observation was the freshly cut grass along the side of the county road. The day before I hadn’t noticed this, but this morning it caught my eye. I love fresh-cut grass. It smells good and it was so even and straight that I couldn’t have done it better myself. Who did it? Do they have as much fun cutting grass as I do? Does my grass need cutting? All really good questions, and I’m betting whoever cut it loves to mow grass.

As I dropped down into the valley just before Skiddy I came upon what appeared to be an exploded chicken. That’s right, feathers everywhere. I am familiar with free range and I must say I’ve never seen a loose chicken in this area, so I determined it was some other form of fowl, but at 60 miles per hour, who knows. Of course by now my hands are back on the bars and my mind is picturing chickens running across the road in their track suits but I still wasn’t convinced if that was actually a chicken. Of course it wasn’t I said in my head, but my mind keeps telling me that’s what I saw. Who knows? I’m guessing not. But maybe.

After coming out of the valley past Skiddy my mind switched gears to how a short morning cloud burst of rain made the pavement wet. I thought about how tires are pretty amazing to keep me upright going around curves in the road even while wet. At just that moment a plastic bag from Walmart came flying up at me out of nowhere. Remaining calm on the outside, I managed to contain any signs of surprise while keeping my wet tires planted firmly on the pavement. How did I know it was a Walmart bag? It got hung up on my mirror and flapped around until I could get it off. Of course my thoughts turned to how a plastic bag could be blowing around out here in the middle of nowhere, with all the barbwire fence, trees and tall grass for it to snag. So for the last three miles I’ve been thinking about chickens dressed in track suits, wet pavement and plastic bags. Is there nothing else going on in my pretty little head?

I promise you there is more to what really goes on in my head than that. Sure, our minds are free to wander as we ride our motorcycles and it’s not always about solving life’s problems. I would rather say that my ride to work this morning covered the great mysteries of life and how the food chain really works, along with how plastic bags have an effect on our planet. Not to mention the laws of physics when riding down the highway with both hands in my hoodie completely in control with a little out-of-control mixed in. As for the chicken? I may never know why he crossed the road.

 

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The Smell of Fear

 

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Sometimes you just don’t know. Sometimes we go through life doing our best, working hard to make a difference (not only in our lives but those around us) and we just don’t know if we are. It’s like a bad driver careening out of control down the road unaware of the carnage going on in his rear-view mirror. Eyes focused on the road ahead, but completely oblivious to the damage done. Later, watching the evening news about a car driven by a reckless driver he says “wow, I drove right through there just before all that happened.”

I’m not saying I’m a bad driver. I’m talking about whether saying hello to someone while walking down the sidewalk, letting someone ahead of you in line or just listening to someone go on and on about the turmoil in their life actually makes a difference to them. Once the brief encounter is over and you both go your separate ways, was a difference made? Good? Bad? All I can do is be who I am and if the goal is to make a difference at that moment then I’ll know I did my best. I don’t know the back-story of everyone I come in contact with, but everyone has a story. Who am I to think I can completely understand their lifetime in just a few moments? Hell, I have a hard enough time understanding my own let alone someone else.

But it’s not about understanding where someone comes from or how their life differs from ours. It’s about the effort put forth to make a difference from this moment on. Listen. Smile. Hold out a hand or open a door. Making someone’s whole day might take just a second of your time, so why wouldn’t we do that? Sounds easy, but are we too wrapped up in our own little world to see the world around us? For whatever reason, perfect strangers will tell me just about anything. I’m not sure if I suffer from “Nice Guy Syndrome” or if it’s because I’m willing to engage in conversation. I’ve tried to understand what possesses someone to veer out of the light conversation we were having into a much deeper subject. At this point we might want to have a proper introduction. For reasons unknown to me, they feel it necessary to say what’s on their mind or what’s going on in their life. It must be my great ability to listen, show the proper facial expressions and nod my head. Just as the old saying goes that bees smell fear, I think people can just smell I’m a good listener.

As we move about our daily routines, it’s only a matter of time that something we say or do (intentional or not) will have an impact on someone around us. For those who know us, what we say or do won’t necessarily be a surprise. For everyone else we may never know. I wish it was as simple as watching the evening news to find out if the damage behind me was caused by yours truly. Although, I do check my mirrors regularly.

 

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