The Calm Before the Morn’

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For this split-second, this sliver of my life, I am standing here in the right place at the right time.

Who wouldn’t like to see this every morning? It can be easy to be preoccupied enough to let a moment like this slip away, but I just can’t do that. With the constant hurry and this wierd feeling I need to be somewhere lingering over me, I still want to stop and take it in. All of it.

We motorcyclists are often credited with pinning the throttle or living life on the edge, but sometimes we actually do stop and realize we aren’t bigger than life but actually a small piece of it.

I wonder how many moments I’ve missed over the years because of my own lack of awareness? The ability to stop and appreciate something so big and out of my control is a learned trait and one that may take years of practice. Or maybe a few birthdays to realize life is more than a daily commute. We motorcyclists are often credited with pinning the throttle or living life on the edge, but sometimes we actually do stop and realize we aren’t bigger than life but actually a small piece of it.

This is what I need each and every day to prepare me for what’s ahead. It’s this calm feeling I need before the storm of life hits the shore. Even though the temperature is 36 degrees, just knowing the sun is coming up to warm the skies makes me feel anything is possible. In a matter of moments this sunrise will change and evolve into another day, but for right now it’s majestic and worthy of a moment of my time.

For this split-second, this sliver of my life, I am standing here in the right place at the right time to take this in. Sure, I may be standing in the ditch but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 

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Stretching the Truth

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 But one truth that is hard to stretch, let alone find the words for – is the natural beauty as the day begins and ends.

A small break in the winter weather found me riding my bike the last couple of days. Yeah, it’s cold in the mornings but the ride home was generally a nice one and it also helps not only physically, but mentally that the sun is hanging around a little longer to see me home. But the mornings have always been one of my favorite times to ride, and even though the temperatures keep you honest this time of year, it is when the road is mostly mine.
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The last couple of days have had me thinking about the serious side of life. There are a certain amount of expectations required by any responsible adult and I would consider myself somewhat responsible. The fact that some people may think by me riding a motorcycle I smell like exhaust and alcohol, I’m wearing the same clothes since the last beer-drinking-bonfire-slash-rally and I’m itching to pick a fight if you look at me sideways. Well I do smell like exhaust a good portion of the time but aside from that I’m just a normal guy. And I have a clean shirt on.

If there is one thing about a motorcycle blog, it gives you plenty of time to write about the sunrise and sunsets on a regular basis. Since most days start and end in this manner it almost seems redundant to mention, but I do anyway. Mostly because they are just that beautiful. Throw in a couple of local landmarks into the shot and anyone who grew up here and around White City can take it in as well. Although we all share the same sunrise and sunsets, we don’t always have the time to take it all in.

It’s hard to think about those long hot summer days when a morning ride might start out in the 30’s here in February, but they’re coming. Soon, these cold morning rides will be another memory and when they get shared to a fellow rider, I might even embellish how cold it really was. But one truth that is hard to stretch, let alone find the words for – is the natural beauty as the day begins and ends.

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Mind Over Matter

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So 2015, it’s been nice knowing you. I’m not sure about the “older you get the faster time flies” thing because it seems this year has lasted longer than 365 days. And besides, when did I get old? Who am I kidding…

I know one thing for sure, if how I felt was a true measure to how old I am, I would not be able to buy beer. Of course, I  don’t feel that old. My mind is still telling my body that anything is possible, and it is more mind over matter anyway. Just tell that to the guy behind the counter at the liquor store.

So for 2016 I will make some promises to myself. Not the usual lies I tell myself every new year, but the ones that really, truly matter. Why we always pick the beginning of the year to make these random claims of personal improvements is beyond me, but here I go;

Laughing More – I need a huge belly laugh where the snorts and snot come from my nose. The kind where Diet Coke comes spraying from my mouth like a split radiator hose. Admit it, you want to laugh like that too.

Working on My Health – I know, right? My mind is telling the matter down below everything is fine, but at my age I know better. I need to stretch, walk and eat better for the health of it. Why? It’s the right thing to do and I can only imagine I would feel better. And besides, a nice evening walk gives me plenty of time to think. My motorcycle does the same thing but without all the cardio.

Take Some Time Off – I need this for my mental state. I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but I’m sure it will depend on how I use this time off. Beer and Nacho Doritos or stretch, walk and be active? Mind over matter, right? I also want to take a ride someplace I haven’t been on my motorcycle. Maybe to the southwest. That’s where Nacho Doritos are made right?

Be a Better Listener – Pay attention and be present daily. Or better yet, shut up and let people talk. I have been told I’m a good listener and I have the stories to back this up. I have perfect strangers tell me things they may not tell anyone else. It must be the perfectly timed concerned nod I give.

Sunrise and Sunsets – I talk a lot about my morning and evening rides on my motorcycle reflecting on how beautiful these are and how each one is unique and beautiful in its own way. I also know others are looking at them too from their own perspective and vantage point, but from now on I’m going to appreciate the beauty of both the visual and spiritual sides of these daily wonders. The beauty as it happens and how and why it happens, and in turn, give thanks each day for this amazing gift.

Appreciate – So much wasted energy is given to those things we cannot change and I will dedicate this energy to appreciating all that is around me. I will also communicate my appreciation to those who are important to me. I hope you don’t mind, because this matters to me. Get it?

One thing is for sure, every day is a gift and there isn’t any point in wasting it. Make the most of your time spent on this earth and give it all you have while making a positive difference in someone else’s life.

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Asking for Directions

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This morning as I was backing my motorcycle out of the garage, I knew I wouldn’t be taking my normal route to work. Living in White City, work is to the north of me so I headed south out of town. Why take the long way to work? I needed a little seat time to sort things out. For all those things swirling around in my head, I find the best time for me to sort through them is riding down the road. Much like someone in a glass box trying to grab as much cash as they can as it flies around them, in this case this isn’t cash flying around me and untamed animals are ready to spring out from the ditch to ruin my day.

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So off I go as my morning begins. My plan was to ride in a big circle and end up traveling east so I could see the sun come up from my bike. Apparently folks take this Labor Day Weekend business pretty seriously because I had ridden 20 miles before I passed another car on the road. I find that when I really don’t think about anything in particular the answers usually seem to come. Often the surface questions I have are of insignificance and the real questions are buried under my full head of hair, so it takes a few miles to figure it out and get to the real heart of what needs organized. Not being a typical male, I’ve never been afraid to ask for directions, and The Man upstairs is a pretty good listener.

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As I settled into my morning commute my mind wandered from one subject to the next but not landing on anything specific. Just the way I like it. As the plan of riding in a big circle came to fruition, I could see the sun peaking up over the horizon just as I turned to head back east. Often the answers to even the deepest questions can be right before your eyes and all we have to do is look up. The quiet inside my helmet is a great place to hear the answers that so many times are drowned out by the constant noise and distractions of a normal day. The old adage of the not seeing the forest for the trees is so true, and even though we recognize what our eyes are seeing, we may not fully understand that a sign can be so simple.

 The quiet inside my helmet is a great place to hear the answers that so many times are drowned out by the constant noise and distractions.

Once I realized I was looking at a cloud pointing in an obvious direction, I had what I was looking for. I’m not sure if I really needed a big arrow in the sky, but obviously someone thought I did. I’ll take it.

Motorcycling At It’s Best

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I ride motorcycles. That doesn’t make my sunrise or sunsets any more spectacular than yours, it just makes them mine. It doesn’t make traveling with a car full of friends a bad thing, it just means I have limited seating. You may wear gloves driving your sports car, I just wear them to protect my hands from the elements. You may sit in your car or climb up into your truck, but I straddle my ride. It’s not always how you get there…or is it? The solitude of riding is real. Looking down at the pavement as it passes below your feet can give you the sensation you’re going faster than you really are, but for me it’s more of a comfort thing. I can look down and see my front wheel spinning and the reflection of my surroundings distorted by the curves in the chrome and I know this is how I want to get there. And this time of year those reflections just happen to be the leaves changing colors.

As the days pass and fall approaches I start to realize that the fast, fun days of warm weather are coming to a close. Motorcycling is at it’s best when you aren’t battling the extreme elements, and history shows winter comes around about the same time every year. This means it’s time to dig out the cold weather riding gear to see if it still fits. Everything should as my clothes still fit the same from a year ago. Any time the seasons change and the temperature transitions one way or the other, it’s hard to figure out what gear to wear. Over time you figure out it’s best to over do it rather than take your chances. You can always take stuff off after you get under way, but it’s difficult to add if you didn’t bring it with you. How many times have I purchased a sweatshirt on the road when caught without enough layers? Not as many times as you would think. Be prepared, that’s what I always say.

Why do I do this? Why do I take the bike when I could easily drive? I don’t have the answer to that just yet. Even I question my sanity sometimes. And not just about riding a motorcycles.

This is the time of year when fewer bikes are on the road. The weather keeps those fair-weather riders from deciding on whether they should ride or drive. I’ll ride every chance I get but I do struggle with it as the morning temperature falls into the 40’s. I’ll get used to it soon enough but as I do, the temperature will still be falling as December and January come along. Why do I do this? Why do I take the bike when I could easily drive? I don’t have the answer to that just yet. Even I question my sanity sometimes. And not just about riding a motorcycles.

Appreciate the beauty of the day. Take it in from wherever you are and don’t worry about me; My view is just fine.

Wait Just a Second

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You might say it can happen just about anywhere. Sitting on a hillside watching the sun lay its head down after a long day, the quiet surrounding you tighter and tighter as it grows dark, or sitting on a rock at water’s edge as the waves come in to greet you. Peace. Center. This is what it’s all about it, as you struggle through the days feeling pulled in all directions – and for what? To have a few moments like this, where we find what we’re looking for within ourselves. It takes the beginning or the end of something to put it all into perspective. The constant motion of water, the sun coming up in the morning to start the day or the sunset to put an exclamation point at the end of another day in our lives. We seek these few precious seconds out of a day that has only so many to choose from. But we find them – they’re just mixed in with all the rest.

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Even the clear sky, lit from a full moon, can give us pause. We often feel the need to see something bigger than ourselves to jar our senses and rattle our being. I find a lot of these necessary fragments of time from behind the handlebars of my motorcycle. It’s a combination of direction, smells, sights and sounds that put me in my place. Life is so much bigger than the road I’m on. I’ve seen the power of a storm as I’m heading right into it – and the rainbow that follows. It’s only water, right? I often talk of the sun coming up in my mirror as I head West, or the sun setting as I roll down the highway, but mere words can’t do it justice. It’s an attitude of humility that surfaces and suddenly it’s me who becomes those precious few seconds in time. I’ve been on this planet for fifty-plus years, but to this planet my life is the equivalent to the blink of an eye.

I need these “larger than my life” moments to set me straight, but it isn’t always nature that causes it. The faces of my grandchildren can bring even the most difficult day to its knees and it makes me realize that those few precious seconds we have are just that – few and precious. So whether it’s from the seat of your motorcycle, hands and knees dirty from the garden or standing perfectly still as the evening comes; take it all in as it’s only a blink of an eye.