The following post is from August of 2013. It was briefly published, but taken down for a while. That said, I’m at Jags, and two absolutely stunning bikes just rode up – the first of the season. And, wouldn’t you believe it, one of them is a Shadow, just like mine. Thanks, universe!
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The amount of dark, cornerstone cafés – those clichéd mechas of artistic inspiration – that I’ve crammed myself into, trying to come up with a single damned thing worth writing about, is stifling. You sit near the back of the room, headphones on, attempting to pull an inspirational composition out of a world from which you’ve clearly extracted yourself. You think that maybe, just maybe, by putting yourself into this facilitated position of an outside observer, you’re able to see the world perhaps more objectively than everyone else, and that means you’ll be able to write meaningfully about it.
And so the dark café works its power, encouraging you to begin stereotyping every single person that walks through the door. While you’re ignoring the open Word Document, somewhat desperately scanning for a free WiFi connection so that you may entertain yourself (while thinking of what you’re going to write – of course), you begin to notice something. Eventually, regardless of location or genre, you realize that the coffee shop has you fooled into thinking that people exist as stereotypes. There are the business people, well-dressed, clacking mindlessly at their Blackberries. There are the old friends, perhaps from university or college, who have selected this location out of mutual convenience to house their reunion. There are the gaggles of energetic high schoolers who, at least according to their teachers, shouldn’t be any bloody where near a caffeinated beverage. And then, somewhere near the back there’s the struggling writer, headphones on, desperately grasping at thoughts which float in and out the door as quickly as the customers themselves. You know these people only as you see them, and you rarely get the chance to delve any deeper.
I’ll be honest. The only time truly passionate topics come to me, tugging at my wrists to flip them down onto the nearest sheet of paper, I’m usually riding my bike. Unlike the coffee house, which bars from you participating in the social experience, a motorcycle forces you to be involved. A motorcycle gives you a tender, active position in the world. You’re forced to pay attention to everything – because dying due to ignorance would really suck – and so you do. You notice each car at every passing intersection. In scanning for various death-bringers and planning your out-strategies, you also catch every comical sign put up by a lighthearted shop keeper. Most interestingly, you find comfortable familiarity in the passing of another rider. That human there is doing the same thing as you, for the same reasons of love and excitement, even cost-effectiveness. If you’re so fortunate to join another rider in her lane for a little while on your respective journeys, there’s a strange separation anxiety that briefly forms when one of you turns off in another direction. I guess that’s life though, really. Though the roads are much longer, and the turns often more unpredictable, it’s about holding on to those feelings while they’re important, and letting them off at the next stop when they have become nothing more than extra weight in your saddlebag.
Motorcycling also teaches you to expect the unexpected. It reminds you that stereotypes are stupid, because for every sleeveless, 20-something-year-old man’s man on a Ninja, there’s an old man discovering two-wheeled joy for the first time. There’s a pretty girl on a CBR who would be genuinely terrified if she were confined only to the status of passenger. There’s a young woman on a big Honda, hoping the road will carry her somewhere beautiful to write what’s on her mind.
Ride on, ladies and gentleman of the road. Ride on.