Soon it will be a year since my father’s passing. When I think of it, without exception, my heart twists softly with grief; pain from his absence. And behind my eyes, rests a stream of tears I refuse to release. I’ve talked with my father many times over the last year; asking for advice, help and guidance. I can’t say I’ve ever heard him answer. Yet today, as I took my Harley out for the first time in three years, when I said, “Hello Dad,” I felt him smile.
My father had one comfort while on this planet, and that was riding his bike. Whether as a teen breaking all the rules on his full dressed Indian or as a man of age on his Harley Davidson, struggling to make sense of a world that never felt right – there was no better medicine for his troubled mind and soul than that which he found on two wheels and an open road. I too struggle. And I too find comfort when two lone wheels take me through winding corner after winding corner. Even when surrounded by friends, numerous bikes swarming the road in a tight-knit formation, I still receive therapy.
To ride a bike, one must balance. If they don’t, they’ll fall. No questions asked. So when life has left me unsteady, uncertain and out of synch, once I sit on the seat of my bike I’m forced to find balance. And I always do. I wonder if that was what my father felt, and was that what kept him coming back time and time again to the place where he was forced to find balance in an unbalanced world. When on a bike, moving forward is required to remain steady. For the most part, unsteadiness happens when still. Perhaps that is why so many who are uncertain and have lost their way seek the kind of treatment a bike provides. Balance doesn’t just happen; it requires that we take a risk, move forward and lift our feet. And for many of us, its one of the only ways in which we ever achieve perfect balance.
When I sat on my bike earlier, it felt as though I’d come home; to a special place; the familiar well-worn seat that belongs in the wall-less office of my doctor. No longer inside, held behind glass or walls, I’m open, balanced and steady – I feel Life, and I’m pretty certain Life feels me.
My father used to say, “There’s no law governing how quickly one reaches the speed limit.” And with those words, I moved through the gears like a trigger-finger emptying a clip. In those few seconds, I tried desperately to let go of all that troubles me. After backing off the throttle, I listened to the pipes crack in protest; the sound of a motor content running hard, now harnessed into submission. I soaked in the familiar rumble as if it were the voice of a gentle, yet strong friend, reminding me to not give up. I find a kindred friend within the voice of my bike. I wonder if my father did too. Maybe that was why he always rode alone, so he could listen to that voice. I never got the chance to ride with my father – not, that is, until today.
In dedication to my father. Happy Father’s Day, Dad.