The Folly of Carrying Excess Weight
by Liz Jansen
In my dream, I was riding my black Yamaha FZ1 (two bikes ago) with a group of friends. ‘Joe’s’ bike broke down and somehow he assumed he could ride mine and take me as a passenger. In reality, Joe is a good friend and excellent on- and off-road rider who would not be so presumptive.
While testing my bike, he kept dropping it in the parking lot. I was annoyed that I was expected to be a passenger and further annoyed that he was getting my bike all scratched up. There was no way I was riding pillion, but offered him the position.
With me in the driver’s seat, we set off down a four-lane divided highway on rather rough pavement. I didn’t even feel him on the back. I was one of a few stragglers going the speed limit and occasionally someone from the group would come back to check on us—and ask what was taking us so long.
At one point, we all had to dismount and walk down a flight of very old, steep steps, with me piggybacking Joe. It took a few tries to stabilize us but we finally managed and I proceeded down the steps. Whitewashed at some point, the paint was peeling, and the steps were gravelly and narrow, uneven in tread and rise.
I struggled but made it down the first flight safely, only to see the second flight was even narrower and steeper. There was no way I could carry Joe any further and set him down.
That was the end of the dream but not of my lesson.
There’s no need to get into deep psychoanalysis to catch the meaning. Ironically, the dream came just before I published my packing list for solo motorcycle travel.
This dream was not about how much weight I carry on my motorcycle. It was a reminder of how much responsibility I accept, what I expect of myself, how insidiously the psychic weight creeps up and sucks the available energy, and how easy it is to get thrown off balance, even when my activities are well intended and aligned with my values. There’s only so much one person can do. Inevitably health issues crop up and it’s so much better to listen before they do.
The first message is to stay in control (to the extent we are in control) of your own choices. Do what’s right for you, rather than assuaging the expectations of others. Joe is a great rider and in waking time, he’d be one of a rare handful I’d let ride my bike. But this was my ride, not his, that’s why he couldn’t manage. And I was happy to help him out when he needed it.
The dream also illustrates how some choices have a limited shelf life. It was right to extend a hand to a friend and virtually no additional effort. There was absolutely no sustained need, nor was it in my best interests to continue carrying that weight once the need was over, yet I did it without even thinking.
This is not the first dream I’ve had about descending stairs. Going Down Stairs . They appear in dreams to reflect the inner work that’s happening—delving into my subconscious as I explore my ancestry and the strengths and challenges that have shaped me. Trying to do this while carrying excess weight is self-defeating. It takes focus—and courage.
Even in dreams, my motorcycle appears as my teacher. Some lessons, like the ones about carrying excess weight, take longer than others to embody. Thankfully, it’s patient and ready to carry me for the long haul.