Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Looking Through the Curve

I love motorcycles.  I didn't always, but I fell in love with them a few years back, when I was forty-four years old.  I have taken two rider's courses, have a MC endorsement on my driver's license, have owned two bikes of my own, and have logged many thousands of miles in the back seat of the late lamented BigYellowBike.  Nearly all of my best friends ride, and I plan all my vacation time around motorcycle gatherings.

One of the most-stressed points taught in a motorcycle safety class is how to take a curve.  You don't want to brake once you've entered the curve...you slow down, look through the curve, then roll the throttle and accelerate into the straightaway.  You don't focus on where you are right now, you look toward where you want to go.  If you allow yourself to become fixated on where you are instead of where you're going, you will crash.  "Look where you want to go!"

It's important, whether riding curving roads or straight, that you ride within your ability and not 'over your head'.  Riding curving, twisting roads is a tremendous thrill, and when it's done correctly there grows a harmony between motorcycle and rider that is hard to equal.  Most riders love riding the twisties, and will compare stories of their rides at great length.    

But even the most-experienced rider needs the occasional straightaway, to rest the arms and mind and catch one's breath.  Twisties are good, and the very best thing about riding, but everyone needs a straight road every once in awhile.  It has felt very much like the last few years have been nothing but one curve after another, and I am ready for a straight stretch. 

I was explaining to my bosses the other day about my sister's condition.  They were concerned with how I'm handling it.  They are riders, too, and I thought of this motorcycle analogy.  I told them, "Right now, I feel as if I am riding at the very limit of my ability and there are curves ahead.  I'm trying my best to look through the curves and not fixate on where I am.  If I can keep from focusing on what's happening right now, I may be able to keep from crashing." 

I guess there could be many ways to look at that analogy...but the point I want to make, and you can take from it whatever makes you happy, is that I have to keep on keeping on, counting on the belief that there is something good around the curve...maybe even a nice straight stretch.  :- )
Summer Thunderstorm...
Last Friday evening, there was a thunderstorm here.  It had been quite dry for a little while, and very hot as well, so rain was needed. The storm came just at the beginning of dusk and the evening sky was still light when the thunder first began to roll.

I've said before that I love the rain, and will stand out in it, as long as there's no lightning.  It became obvious right away, though, that this was not going to be a stand-out-in-it rain.  I was, however, feeling a bit confined and blue, and I didn't feel like waiting out the storm in the house.  I went out onto the front porch, sat on the bench there, and lost myself in the rain and the light and the sound.

It was a magnificent show.  The treetops swayed wildly against the darkening sky, and I marveled that these great solid objects could bend enough to withstand such winds.  The thunder was loud enough on several occasions to be felt in my chest, and wild enough to crackle like fireworks.  Lightning blazed in the sky.  My hair curled crazily with the wind and the humidity, but the porch roof kept me dry except my bare feet and legs. It was magnificent.

I wonder how many people go out to sit and watch a storm?  I don't remember ever being frightened of them growing up, but the thirty years I spent most recently living on the open prairie made me somewhat nervous of them.  With nothing to stop the wind, it becomes a force with which to be reckoned.  Now that I live in a more sheltered place, I'm rediscovering my love of these great works of Nature.

With all that's going on in my life right now, I think it was a good thing for me to sit out and watch a thunderstorm.  It helped me remember that I am just a very small part of this universe we inhabit, and that the problems that take up so much of my thoughts are proportionately small, as well.  It helped me try to slow down...take it easy...just be.

It's a good lesson for me in these trying days.  I do love a good storm.