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Nirvana calling

By Terry Roorda

I’ve been on this soapbox for a real long time, making the case till I’m blue in the face that there’s an entirely distinct dimension of existence that only manifests itself to a biker adrift alone in an unfamiliar landscape, pushed well inside his own head, way outside his comfort zone and at the mercy of uncontrollable circumstances, meteorological, mechanical, and social. Higher highs, lower lows, longer swings between extremes of misery and euphoria.

It’s a realm of existence unbound by conventional physical laws, and if you don’t believe me take this simple test: Have you ever ridden 100 miles in mere moments, and then ridden 15 miles that took an eternity? Sure you have. So much for the so-called laws of physics. In this dimension you see things very differently, the horizon and your own soul equidistant from your senses, your eyes looking out, your eyes looking in, as the Buddhists would say. It’s in this zone that riding a bike ceases to be merely a journey between points on a map and becomes a voyage of self-discovery. There’s a downside to such a voyage, of course, and it’s that you might not like what you discover. You might discover that you’re a creep or a coward or a shallow selfish twit, but even that’s valuable information inasmuch as once you’ve isolated the defects you can begin the process of self-redemption.

That process—and a host of other inquiries and exorcisms—begins at the end of the day when sitting outside your room at some far-flung mom-and-pop motel that in its glory was barely a cut above a fleabag, and that cut has long since healed. In this dimension, though, it’s the Four Seasons Bumfuq, and with a beer in hand and your bike close by, a meditation sets in as your mind unreels from the long spell of immediate attention to the road and all it’s thrown at you, and fixes instead on life in all its particulars, all its disappointments and delights. All your troubles and setbacks shrink to manageable proportions or disperse entirely, and your place in the world comes into focus. Epiphanies happen then.

That’s what I’ve long preached, anyway, even unto the point where my flights of rhapsody on the subject would evoke a there-he-goes-again rolling of the eyes among my riding peers; friends who have tended to view my evangelical mission not as a higher calling but as a transparent ruse concocted to dignify a debauched biker lifestyle and excuse in hifalutin terms an adulthood devoted to—or squandered on, some would insist—motorcycles and motoculture. You know, bloviating like I am right now. And it’s not that they don’t have some inkling of what it is I’m jawing on about. They too have given up much of their existence to the power of the almighty bike, and done a mess of miles, they just don’t go all nutzoid ga-ga about it like I do.

Which makes it all the more gratifying when they do. That vindication came today when in short order I received two phone calls from the road. They came from two old dear biker buddies who in the past have generally ridden together. We’ll call them Abbot and Costello, because that’s how they generally behave in each other’s company when off on one of their madcap misadventures. Today, though, they’re calling from two different places, and here’s another thing you know about them: They’re both coming off of long trains of troubles and setbacks. Long periods of low-grade depression that have taken a toll on their psyches, and kept their eyes from looking out or looking in. Their eyes had become fixed on their immediate miseries and a general emotional numbness had immobilized them.

And now they’re both coming off long days on the road. They’re both ensconced in far-flung mom-and-pop motels, with a beer in hand and their magical machine nearby and the epiphanies are pouring forth. Together they are Abbot and Costello, but apart and alone on the road they have become Aquinas and Camus, and the tenor of both conversations is ecstatic and expansive, and their dispositions are as upbeat as I’ve experienced from either one of them in a real long time. They’re in the Dimension, all right, and they just had to tell someone about it; someone who would know exactly what they’re talking about. Who else would they call?

God, I love it when I’m right.

It’s all right here in the diaries.

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