Riding a Harley Davidson forced me to confront a series of lessons I did not anticipate. One of the first and most enduring is one that may seem obvious to everyone except me. Riding demands one’s undivided attention. There is something unique about the experience of riding through America’s backlands to bring this into focus.
As I pass through Harvard California, stopping for a break at Jeremy’s, I realized that I was riding without text messages, phone calls, or reading materials. Even the music in my ears faded with the wind and rumble from the engine. I was alone with the sun and the open road.
You might think that the process would be mundane. In reality, it was anything but. Elements along the way are always serious threats. Many drivers are careless or ignorantly blind. One can never assume that they will see a rider on a bright blue motorcycle. Smooth roads have their gravel patches and grooves. Invisible wind gusts can push a 700-pound Harley and rider with ease.
As the miles gathered themselves, I found my focus improving. It was as if a Spirit was enveloping me with each curve and mountain pass. The worries I had left with were pushed to the side. I could hear my soul talking to my mind. “‘Take care of it [your worries] on your own time. I can’t be bothered with this nonsense,’ and he cleared them out of the courtroom.” (Acts 18.16)
Jeremy’s became a reference point in contrast. The only building I could find in an area marked as a town. Everything seemed ghostlike. Inside, with the air conditioner running at full speed, I found myself in another world. As I drank Gatorade, I lost interest in the dusty curios for sale. A local teenage girl played with her mobile, looking for the text message that never seemed to arrive, it was clear that her focus was anywhere but Jeremy’s.
I realized it was time to ride. My world narrowed. My shaded eyes scanned the road ahead. It is a world all to itself.