We are always in motion. Moving through life at the speed of “Where did the day go?” and “It feels like that was just yesterday.” and “I never have enough time.” Moving and doing. We are always going somewhere.
Yesterday, I spent the day on the back of a motorcycle chasing the 2017 eclipse. No destination. Simply a purpose: ride, find some grass and some water, watch the eclipse, enjoy the day and ride home. It was glorious.
Meandering through the windy backroads of Preble County Ohio, the wind loud in my ears, I could taste the journey. You see, on a motorcycle you are exposed to the world. The road is close. I could feel every imperfection in the asphalt. Fresh cut grass filled my nostrils as we rode by. I knew when a river was close without seeing it because the moisture cooled the air a couple of degrees: a refreshing mist on a hot August afternoon. A decaying carcass at a city stop light, black and flattened so that it was camouflaged by the road, left me wondering about the life it had lived, how fragile life is and how in death we too are no more than a dead animal on the road. On the state routes, the sun beat on us and the other vehicles whirled around us emitting fumes. On the back roads, the trees, quiet and grand, canopied overhead leaving shade and enveloping us in beauty and color. I found myself deliciously in the moment, tasting every detail. I stretched out my arms, tilted back my head and closed my eyes. And for a moment, I was flying. And laughing. And feeling. And living.
We are indeed in motion. Moving through life on this journey. And like most of the travelers that we encountered, we do so within the illusion of safety – in a box with glass windows that we look out at the world from so that we see it and don’t experience it. Cars are safe. Motorcycles are dangerous. A life on the highway in an enclosed box is safe. A life on the back roads where you taste the shunk on the side of the road is dangerous.
When we live our lives within the illusion of safety, encapsulating ourselves in the armor of identity, travelling 80 miles an hour towards some future destination, we miss out on the life that is all around us in this moment. We think that we are living in it because we can see it outside of our windows.
Life is lived on the back roads. Life is experienced when we get in it. When we taste it. When we feel it. When we stop and put our feet down on the pavement and smile at the wonder.
It is indeed dangerous to ride a motorcycle. Dangerous because it threatens the allusion of the life lived in a box moving at the speed of Someday. Dangerous because it envelopes you in the beauty of the elements. Dangerous because it forces you to take the roads less travelled. Dangerous because it questions the mundane.
We are always in motion. And we get to chose whether to take the back roads and expose ourselves to the sights and smells or take the highways and protect ourselves from experiencing life.
You don’t need to get on a motorcycle to choose a back road today. Open the windows. Stick your hand out and feel the air. Step out of the box and sit in the grass for a moment. Close your eyes and taste the details. Put your feet on the pavement and smile at the wonder. Travel at the speed of Today.