Monday, October 26, 2009

It Ain't Just Middle Age Crazy

Why? Why after almost 3 decades of not riding would I suddenly want to pick up a dangerous hobby again having survived it the first go round? I am not the only one searching for the answer from me, but I am the only one listening to the rhetoric that I am using to try to explain it. After debating this in my mind over the past few years and with more specific focus in the last month or so, I can point to three things: Freedom, Control, and Fear.

Freedom: There is a certain feeling of complete and total freedom felt while cruising down the road on a bike --the sunshine -the beautiful scenery -the sound of the wind rushing by. It puts a smile on your face and raises your spirits like nothing else. This feeling may be one of the reason I enjoyed Alpine skiing so much. It is a similar feeling, but it only lasts as long as the ski run itself. Driving a convertible is similar, but not totally there. I think sky diving or bungee jumping might also be similar. Riding a bike is the long play version of this thrill.

Control: As I get older I realize there are fewer and fewer things I really have control over. My job, my government, my health, my destiny-- I may have influence over some of these but I am far from having any sort of control over them. In fact, I am shown daily how little control I have over any of them. On a bike the control is totally mine. From the brief movement of my body which causes the bike to act in a particular way, to the mechanisms that are activated by both feet and both hands. I become one with the bike and it an extension of me. I have ridden horses in the past but I never experienced the oneness between rider and horse that some people talk about. I feel this on a bike. Maybe this is part of what some people call middle age desperation. You realize how little influence you actually have so you reach for this things that make you truly feel like you have some sort of control to feel self actualized.

Fear: This is not fear of the bike or riding, this is fear of life and the approaching end of it without doing a few things that I have a deep desire to do. In the past two weeks, two more members of the my high school class (1977) have died. A good friend was recently diagnosed with cancer and another faced a brain tumor last year. Last year I had an event I refer to as my recent excitement that ended in me getting a heart stent. I am now just thirteen years away from the age my mother passed on. I am eight years older than Elvis was when he died and only one year younger than Michael Jackson bit the big one. Lots of stuff pointing to my mortality and the fragility of life.

Even with all that against me, I am not a fatalist. I plan on living a good long time and enjoying my grand kids and great grand kids. That is part of the reason I find this necessary, I don't want to be a embittered old man who never grabbed his dreams or was prevented from doing so - I want to be the old man with great tales from grabbing the dreams and holding on for the ride.

I had a boss once who had the following quote hanging on her wall:
"Life is not about getting to the end of it in a well preserved body, but rather to slide in sideways, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, screaming "HOLY SHIT what a ride!"

Too true.
Sent from my Android phone.
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