Yesterday my husband and I took a ride to Eagle Rock to visit a funky burger/sandwich joint called The Oinkster. It was the first I had been on the bike in a while; I think the last time was late last summer, maybe early autumn.
Being on the back of a Harley, hurtling down the freeway at 70 miles per hour, the roar of the wind in my ears --you would think that would be an entirely present-moment experience. So it was interesting to me to notice that I had to keep pulling myself out of my head to focus on sensation and perception. At first, the reason was... well... anxiety and fear.
Curtis is an experienced biker, sure handed and safe and not afraid to kick up the speed. I can count on both hands and maybe one foot the number of times I have been on a motorcycle, and I am still getting used to it.
It is an exhilarating experience, but it is very raw and exposed as well, and as much as I like to think of myself as a risk-taker, I know that in very many ways I am not. So it is a small step of courage to ride with nothing but a bitchin' helmet to protect me. Although holding on to the sturdy frame of my husband helps, I still find myself closing my eyes as the bike tips towards the ground in the bend of the curve, and I remind myself to relax and let the lean happen. By the time we are on our way home, I am getting used to that curious sensation once again.
But even after I have let go of the tension, still I notice my mind wandering away from the beauty of the landscape and sky through which we are traveling. Sometimes a random rumination, sometimes just the running commentary that tends to fill my head all the time as if I am writing a script. As I keep bringing my attention back --to the green hues of the crops, or the scrubby hillside, or the wind and the sun on my skin--I begin to find just the barest beginning brief moments of pure awareness, the gap between thoughts that comes so much more easily when sitting in the dark and quiet of my morning meditation.
I guess I need more riding practice. Letting go of automatic reactions, trusting the moment, leaning in to the scary places. I like this metaphor as it is unfolding for me right now as I write this. This is how I want to live, this mindful and purposeful practice of fully inhabiting the present moment. Whether I am on the bike, washing the dishes, talking with a friend, doing therapy, walking to lunch; I want to be in the now in all its fullness, neither grasping nor avoiding, fully engaged and authentically expressive.
It is the practice of a lifetime. But I have a handsome guy with a Harley to help me along.
And Happy Father's Day to my favorite biker dude.