What a Ride! Navigating During Times of Transition
I learned to ride a motorcycle at age sixteen, when you’re invincible. What could go wrong? It’s easy to learn a new skill. No one told me I could or couldn’t do it or what might happen. It started out as a lark to get around the farm. I doubt anyone pictured where that motorcycle would take me.
Learning to ride later in life, especially for women, presents a different landscape. We’ve collected a lifetime of stories about what can happen and what we’re doing says about us. People feel obliged to share gruesome details of crashes (everyone knows someone who’s died or been maimed). There are stereotypes to overcome, even if we think we’re immune to them. We think we’re too weak, too old, or won’t grasp something “mechanical.” We fear failure.
Yet, the calling of our heart to move into the unfamiliar doesn’t go away. Similarly, transitions that we’re thrust into, like a global pandemic, force massive change that are impossible to wrap our heads around. It’s what we discover about ourselves during these times that help us grow.
When I wrote Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment, I was curious to learn what others discovered about themselves when they pushed their comfort zones. The messages from the women I interviewed were clear and consistent. “If I can learn to ride a motorcycle, (which I thought was impossible), what else can I do?” “It (learning to do something you thought you couldn’t) sets up a pattern in your life that, wow, I can do this!” “Motorcycling taught me how to overcome things. When I got diagnosed with cancer, I used all the positive stubbornness to get through that.”
Times of transition are unsettling. The greater we perceive the uncertainty, the greater the likelihood it has to disquiet us. They shake us to the core, reveal our vulnerabilities, and unearth our strengths. When we’re in the midst of them, it can get pretty bumpy. Discouragement, despair, and even anger try and move into the driver’s seat. Self-doubt, second-guessing ourselves, and a pervasive anxiety cast and deepen shadows. They make it hard to see our way through.
None of us can hide from the massive global transition we’re going through. Nor can we ignore the vulnerabilities and inequities it’s revealing. We also can’t discount what we’re going through as individuals, even if we can’t wrap our heads around it. But the cracks that open to reveal what lives in the darkness, also let in the light.
We cling to the idea that when “this” is over, things will be over and all will be well again. We’ll go back to normal—whatever that is. Job loss, serious illnesses, financial hardships, or relationship changes—even without a pandemic—can knock us off our feet. So can life events that we choose and welcome, like graduation, moving to a new home, or landing our dream job.
Confidence, courage, trust, a sense of personal power, and more, live in each of us. No one can grant them, and no one can take them away. Moving into the unfamiliar helps us recognize the treasures we carry, even if they’re buried.
The past and what’s emerging is all that’s here in this moment. Finding our treasures is the beginning. Using them to move forward is how we best serve ourselves (first), our communities and our world.
Transitions pitch us into the unfamiliar, whether we go willingly or kicking and screaming. You may not ride a motorcycle but there will be some other vehicle of transformation to help you navigate. You’ve got all the resources you need. Get on and ride it!
What a ride!