I posted a Facebook status on Monday (primarily consisting of “done,” repeated many times) that was indicative of my relief to be finished with a major project for one of my classes this semester. It was a huge burden relieved and because I could, I took my Harley out for a short ride yesterday through some back roads in parts of Sacramento, El Dorado and Placer counties. I had no plan, no destination – I wasn’t going anywhere and in doing so, I was everywhere. I just rode. Although the heavy lifting this semester is largely over, I am not done yet. There is still some work to do on another class project and a fair amount of grading for my students left to complete, but yesterday I put all that out of my mind. It was my first truly stress-free day in many weeks.
It wasn’t as though I had nothing else to do yesterday. Indeed, there is always more to do, but there was nothing - for an entire day – that had to be done. While sitting in my office, staring at my computer, thinking about the several tasks left and their immanent deadlines, I heard something. It was not exactly audible, not that anyone else would have been able to hear it, but something was drawing me near, and away. What I heard was the smell of an unusually cool spring day, the feeling of wind on my face, the vision of mile upon mile of ribbons of asphalt twisting through the foothills, and I could hear the rumble of my motor. In a moment I heard it all. It was beckoning me. It could not have been more clear. My mind, after weeks of thinking, was finally clear enough to hear that primal call and there is no better place for listening than the open road. At once I knew what I had to do, five minutes later I was on the road letting my bike lead the way.
It wasn’t a particularly long ride, maybe a couple of hours, though I can’t really say. Time was not a worry. I don’t know how many miles I rode, either. I rode fast, but I did it slowly, I wasn’t going anywhere and I wasn’t in any hurry to get there. I have written about moments, small but indelible moments that one might find oneself in and realized all at once, “this is it.” And it was. I was free. I am free. And though we treasure our freedom in this nation, how many of us truly are? We are slaves to this and beholden to that. There are deadlines, stop signs, bed times and phone lines. Freedom, true freedom, is too often elusive - it comes in moments and those moments are absolutely necessary to make my life full.
That ride yesterday returned me to primordial sanity. It put all that I do into perspective. I gave myself back to my heart and allowed my mind to quiet – to rest for a little while and let my bike do the thinking. That ride yesterday saved my life. And it never fails. It’s important to listen with my heart to the sounds my ears cannot hear. Those sounds are sometimes so faint they are easily missed. And the moment is gone. That sense of true freedom comes in many forms. It might not be on a Harley; maybe it’s a long walk next to a cool running stream. It could come from the view of the Pacific Ocean from the bluffs high above the coast, the cold ocean wind stinging, waves crashing. Sometimes the pristine briskness of the snow-capped Sierras presents freedom at its freest.
It speaks in silent whispers.
Listen. Do you hear it?