When Everything Changes, Even Motorcycling
It’s hard to imagine a realm when everything changes.
Each year, my heart soars higher when I ride my motorcycle. It takes flight as soon as I turn the key in the ignition and ascends as I pull out of the driveway. It doesn’t land until long after Trudy, my muse, has cooled down in the garage.
Motorcycling long distances gives clears my head, energizes me, and sparks my creativity. It brings me in contact with people who inspire and validate what I’m doing. It pushes my comfort zone and unearths strengths I wasn’t familiar with. So, it’s unusual that I don’t yearn for the road in the same way this year.
Although I’ve traveled every summer for as long as I can remember, time away has crept up. Last summer, the longest stint was three months. My intention could be as undefined as heading out and staying open to whatever the road delivers. Or, it could be more specific. In 2003 I took a few months to collect the fragments after sweeping life changes. Last year’s I enjoyed an amazing cross-country book tour. Usually wanderlust mixes in with destinations and events.
At one time, I envisioned shipping Trudy overseas this summer. We’d ride through Russia and Ukraine, following my ancestral trail back in history. That changed last year during a visit to Writing-on-Stone Park in Alberta. “You need to stay here, listen to the stories of the land and share them,” I heard. So, I planned to return to the land that drew my ancestors and keeps calling me back. What were those stories that were so urgent for me to hear, and share?
Now all that has changed. I’m not comfortable with camping and depending on communal facilities. There’d be many stops at gas stations, rest areas, and grocery stores along the way. Leaders discourage non-essential travel. Alberta has closed provincial parks, like Writing-on-Stone, to non-residents. Other areas on my route are off limits to all visitors for the season.
The message is pretty clear. But what about the calling I heard? I was certain southern Alberta was on the agenda.
I was certain I knew what I was doing when I set out on my quest in 2014 too. Then I sought to understand how the stories of my ancestors had shaped me. I also felt the land somehow had stories, too, but I didn’t stay long enough to hear them.
In retrospect, I had no idea where I was going, let alone how to get there. Even what I thought was a conservative plan had me skimming over my family history and spending the bulk of time riding in South America. How did I expect to learn about my ancestors on the Salar de Uyuni (salt flats) in south western Bolivia?
My crash, coincidentally in the same area I’d planned to visit this year, ushered in months of stillness. That space was necessary to heal my broken body, and shop for a new motorcycle. It gave me time for reflection, research, and reconnecting with extended kin. I wouldn’t have chosen it, but it turned out to be an essential part of my journey.
I don’t yearn for the road in the same way this year, even though it informs me on so many levels. The calling I heard hasn’t changed, but I didn’t hear a year to go along with that! Time opens up possibilities I wouldn’t otherwise have considered. There may well be better ways to get to my destination. I can read, research, and prepare. I can spend time in stillness, listening, and staying out of the way until it’s time to move. There could be another way of hearing those stories. It wouldn’t be the first time I thought I knew best and was shown otherwise.
We’ve entered a time when everything changes, often dramatically and rapidly. Many people are being forced to rethink, rebuild, and reinvent what they do and how they do it on a large scale. Not riding my motorcycle as I always have is not a hardship. If I can’t do that, how will I manage when I’m really tested. I’m disappointed, but I trust it’s because there’s a better way. There’s still plenty to see and do in my Ontario back yard.
When everything changes, it’s important to maintain perspective. After all, the point of the journey is not the destination; it’s who you become as you transform along the way.