Sunday, October 3, 2010

Patience is a virtue.

I am a patient man.

I. Am. A. Patient. Man.

Do not think for an instant that because I don't jump to defend myself that what you are doing is correct or right, or that you are getting away with your actions. I will, however, defend others that you are attacking, especially those that deserve my protection, those to whom I owe this protection.

Over the next few days, I expect that some things will transpire that will bring some of your own activities to light. When that happens, I will not gloat. I won't be elated neither will I feel any form of deep satisfaction. I hope to feel relief. As a matter of fact, I expect that I will be the first person blamed for any form or corrective action that you receive. I have no doubt that you will have enough friends believing that some how I did this to you. Luckily, there are those that will know the truth.

There are still enough people around that remember what you tried to do last time we dealt with this. I'm pretty sure that the memories won't help your argument.

Can I ask one thing - why do you hate me so? Why do you feel so much anger towards me? Is it merely insecurity? Have I ever said one thing to make you feel this way? Is it really me or do you hate someone else that I represent? Is it my hair color, my weight, or simply because I am male? What drives you to feel like this?

Sadly, I have even looked at it as if I might really be at fault. Maybe it was something I said or did that brought these feelings on. But there have been a lot of years go by that you have acted this way and maybe your life would benefit if you matured enough to act like an adult about whatever it is.

This being said, tomorrow begins the next (and last, I hope) chapter of this face-off. Something has to change. Something has to be done to improve the situation.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Phases and Stages

I've been watching the leaves since they began changing a few weeks ago. The view from my back door allows me to see across a small hollow and the trees and bushes are are all flaunting their finery. Apparently, the local fauna have decided that it's time to make an appearance as well. There have been V formations of geese flying and circling overhead and the other night there were three yearling does from the local deer herd that stopped and stared as I drove past them on a street below my house. Another sign is that I have what appears to be millions of acorns in my driveway. Supposedly, some acorns are edible, but I don't know if the ones off my trees are the kind that are and I'm not so adventuresome that I want to use my own self for testing. I do have some candidates in mind, however.

I also have seen some changes and alterations in friendships. I've reconnected with some friends lately that I haven't spoken with for a while and I'd like to think they are enjoying it as much as I. One friend, Kathy, grew up just down the street and started being more a friend of my sister, then we phased into school friends which was followed by morphing into acquaintances. I recently asked friends if social networking friends were "real" or just "tech" friends and was pleased to hear form Kathy that she felt we are "real" friends while another friend was truthful enough to admit that they felt that these friendships were "light compared to "in-person" friendships. I'm glad that Kathy and I have progressed to that stage. And I also wonder if maybe the anonymity of social media allows us to maybe be more forthcoming with personal "stuff" (technical term...) in turn getting us electronically closer to each other.

Another phase currently in change is happening at work. A few years ago there were things going on that were less than ideal. Things were happening that were making my life, and a few others as well, pretty miserable. I was patient, and I worked things through and was able to use channels to fix the problem without a lot of cost and without a lot of hurt feelings. Some hurt feelings, but not a lot. Things got better and then even better. Phases and stages.

Recently, however, some things are going on that are reminding me of a darker time. A time that I was hoping not to go back to. Things that are escalating to an almost insane level. Circles and cycles.

But I am a patient man. And, being a patient man, I know that there will soon come a time when things will improve. Possibly drastically. Maybe, if I am lucky, dramatically. But I am also thinking permanently.

My friends, I want to thank you being, well, my friends. I want to thank you for being there, and for sharing a little of your lives with me. You have helped to make some dark parts of my own existence a little less daunting, and a lot more warm.

Thank you once again, with all my heart.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Tech" friends vs. "Real" friends

Technology is an amazing thing. Each new development makes the world smaller. Radio, gave people a means to reach out to others, a way to share ideas. Radio operators on ships and in the armed forces would take the opportunities to "meet" friends and exchange news, play chess and share recipes.

15 years ago email was in its infancy. Computers were nowhere near as available as they are now. Cell phones were called "bricks" and we all clamored for them, we all were reaching out. User groups and forums were starting. The Internet was building momentum and "networking" was becoming vogue.

AOL and other applications were becoming more and more popular. People were, again, reaching out just as they did in every community they ever lived in. From villages and farmsteads, to townships and on up the food chain, people have always looked to their neighbors, looked beyond their boundaries. Technology has given us more and more opportunities to do so more conveniently than ever before.

Through Facebook and other networking sites (AOL, MySpace, Twitter, Linkd) people are finding it possible to connect, reconnect and create relationships with people from all over the world. Through one group I've been able to reunite with friends from the small town where I grew up, friends from school and even family members from all around the country.

With another forum I attend online, I've made friends literally around the world. It's a group of motorcycle riders that has become a virtual family. We reach out through pain and sorrow, through illness and death, and through life, through love and through happiness. This family, most of whom have never met face to face, has come together to help make repairs of homes, computers and bikes; come together when one was in a crash and nearly died, when one lost a spouse to cancer, and when some have lost pets.

One example is that when one of the group had a bike that was his only source of transportation stolen and didn't know what to do, we all came together and chipped in and bought him another bike. Not a new one, but one that was 100%. A motorcycle. A Goldwing motorcycle. Not all friends will do that. Not all family will do that.

The kids I went to high school with? We can't even seem to get together for lunch one day, let alone go out of our way to make a major difference in our lives. I drove from Layton to SLC to pick up a motorcycle part, then delivered it to Pocatello with a "thank you" as my reward. It was enough.

On another side, I have a twin sister and we went for about 16 years without speaking. No cards, no calls, no contact. Not a lot of friendship. I know that my family isn't typical, but neither are my friends.

Then again, with the changes in technology, maybe they are.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


What an odd day. I've wanted to post something here about remembering that day not so many years ago when we were jolted from our security. Do you remember where you were? Are we going to play this game that was played with the Kennedy assassinations or John Lennon's murder? Of course we are, it's human nature to relate an event or a time or memory, to associate it with something and personalize it to set it in memory.

I remember where I was. I was teaching a Baseline Class at work. Bill, a friend of mine, was attending. Two co-workers, Joyce and Ed, were watching things transpire on a TV in a conference room and we kept turning the TV in the training room on during breaks. What a long, long day. After work I helped another friend, Ken, with a class at a shooting range.

Driving home I saw a most heart-rending site - a lone figure was standing on one of the freeway overpasses in Morgan holding a US flag. Simply, heartbreakingly and peacefully, standing there, silhouetted in the sunset.

All day long I had felt anger and frustration. All day long I wanted to strike back, to exact my own toll against those who perpetrated this upon our soil. But seeing that lone flag bearer, lighted from behind with the the dying rays of the days sun, I suddenly was more focused and more my anger was tempered with sorrow. Anger would return, but just then I felt sorrow for those many people who lost friends and family in this tragedy.

While I lost no family of mine, I did lose some acquaintances and people with whom I worked. This was driven home later while at a conference and talking about this attack with some FBI trainers. They were commenting on one of the assignments they had in New York following the attack and mentioned one of the men working on the phones and communications lines they used. They stated that he was always there. He was there in the morning and there at night and never seemed to go home.

When he was asked about it, he bluntly stated that he was the only person in his office in the North Tower that wasn't killed in the attack. Some happenstance had kept him delayed from getting to the office on time that morning and his entire floor was destroyed killing every other person in his office. He alone survived and the guilt that he felt for that drove him to service. He needed to work, he needed to expiate this guilt for not dying with his co-workers by serving those who worked to investigate this tragedy.

This was something that was seen all across our country. Suddenly, people were coming out to enlist. Our military experienced a growth curve as did our police and fire departments. People, just everyday, ordinary people where volunteering to help others. The crime rate dropped, violence dropped, and people cared for each other again. I hadn't seen people care like this since the early '70s. People simply cared.

Since that time, however, there has been a slow decline back to the status of pre-9/11. People have returned to the "what's-in-it-for-me" attitude, the feeling of watching out solely for one's self rather than a "we're-all-in-this-together" attitude.

I beg, I implore, I seek or WHATEVER works with you, care for others. Care for each other. Care for yourself and your family, certainly, and care for your friends. But care also for those in need. Care for those that are alone. Don't be afraid to take a minute and remember those who serve and protect the freedoms we so freely enjoy.

Remember the men and women in our armed services, those who fight daily in their police, fire and EMS duties to protect and provide these freedoms for us. Don't forget the police, fire and EMS workers that rushed in while others were rushing out. The ones that knew they weren't coming out yet still sacrificed in an attempt to save as many people as they could.

And while you're busy not forgetting, how about we not forget to offer them our thanks when we get the chance. Sadly, I don't think that we're through with this battle, I am afraid that we will once again have visited upon our land another attack on this great country. I hope we're ready this next time.

And I hope we learn from these attacks that we truly are a great people living in a great land.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Family reunion

This afternoon I went to a family reunion. It was an interesting event - unscheduled and unplanned, I wasn't even expecting to be there. I got to talk with my dad and we were talking about some email we had exchanged. Mom was there but didn't say much, just kind of quiet and smiling. Uncle Ron, mom's brother, was there laughing his huge laugh that I remember so well and holding hands with Aunt Geneil (dad's sister) who was laughing with him.

My sister Sam was around, but again, most of what I remember is her laughter. It's such a good thing that most of my family memories are full of laughter. She chuckled as she walked past, scratching my dog under the chin and teasing me for holding him so close and tight. I was watching my daughter's children as she was playing with them over by the window. Doug and Emma were in some kind of battle which isn't new. DJ was building something.

I can remember the smells of the food - our family events always had laughter and food. I remember wondering where Jeff was because I could hear him somewhere. I always wanted to have Jeff as a brother as I didn't always get along with my two sisters. Jeff and I didn't always get along either, but it we always had fun together.

Javert, my dog, put his head on my shoulder and I remember hearing some kind of beeping or horn and thinking that it sounded odd, like it didn't belong. Then the electronic sound of something like coins dropping into a glass, maybe ice cubes? Then I recognized it as Kerry playing some game on her computer and slowly realization started to slip in.

As wonderful as my reunion was, I began to realize that it was just a dream. Dad died in '89, mom last year. Sam several years ago and Geneil back in the early '80s. I'm not sure what it means that I had both family that has passed away already and family still living with me.

I don't read much into dreams, although I love to have them. I usually dream very vividly, very graphically. I tend to smell scents and odors and can feel and touch in my dreams. And as I rose from the bliss of sleep and dreams, the smells of the food waning and the sounds fading, the laughter slowly growing quiet, I was left with the feeling of peace and warmth as the last of the dream left to me.

I miss them all, each of them. I am thankful for the memories that I have and remorseful of those that I missed. I wish I had been able to spend more time with the family although it seems like this family has a hard time getting together. Everybody wants to, but these plans never seem to come to fruition. I'm as bad as any other.

I am thankful for the opportunity that I have had the past couple of years to re-unite with some of my extended family, and friends as well, and have been blessed with renewing these relations. I can only hope that I provide something in kind back to each of them.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


o·pin·ion   /əˈpɪnyən/ –noun
1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
3. the formal expression of a professional judgment: to ask for a second Medical opinion.

Oh? You have an opinion? You do realize that having an opinion doesn't set you apart from anybody else, right? You know that everybody has one, right?

Oh, okay, yours is different. Yours is right.

Wait, uh, wait a minute.

May I ask you a small question? Just a simple questions, really, just a little insight for me own personal edification?


The other day a mutual friend of ours apologized to me because of the comments that you made. It was on her dime, it was her thread and you interjected your own criticism, condemning a whole group of people for simply having the audacity to have their own opinion that was (GASP!) not yours! How dare they? Don't they know that YOURS is the official, one-and-only opinion allowed?

I declined to let her even think that she had any reason to apologize. I refused to let her take responsibility for the vitriol that you vented. She is much to nice of a lady to saddle with that responsibility. And you, coward that you are, should have never put a lady in that position. If you want to vacate your spleen, do it on your own time. Own up to it. Stop hiding behind someone else.

I do have one other question: What exactly does make you think that yours is the RIGHT opinion? What exactly sets you apart and grants to you the insight and wisdom to so blatantly and rudely impart your precious pearls upon the world?

Is it geography? Does that fact that you live where you do give you this authority? Is the state in which you reside the ONLY state that is allowed to hold value of opinion? Is it something in the water? Is it the lower altitude that grants you an oxygen-rich environment so you think more clearly than the rest of the world?

Or is it that you have a captive audience with low cost since you manage to post on social networking sites? Since you don't have to invest the cost of a stamp, let alone the time to write a letter, place it in an envelope and mail it to the editor of the paper; has technology and the fact that any 11 year old with an Internet connection who can type can post their glowing words of praise or degenerate and perverse vituperation bestowed supreme opinion status on your glowing and golden brow?

Save your castigation and condemnation of me just because my opinion is not yours. I am every bit as educated as are you. You have your values and standards as do I. However, just because my social mores and the values I have are not those you would embrace, don't you dare for one instant believe that yours have any greater value than mine.

I don't expect you to agree with me, I rather expect that you will NOT agree with me on many items. But I refuse, as a matter of fact I demand that you will respect my opinion for the value that it has, regardless of whether it has any semblance of your opinion. I didn't assault your values and your opinion, neither did I denigrate your worth as a person, as a human being, just because your values are not mine. Neither are you allowed to do that to me.

You, no question or doubt, owe Patricia an apology.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Memories of corn

About a week ago someone left a package on my porch. this being zucchini season, I was just a little bit leery, but it wasn't squash this time, but it was a half-dozen ears of fresh sweet corn.

Guess what dinner was...

Later, as I was shucking the corn, I commented that I hate shucking corn, then stopped to think why I hate shucking corn. Suddenly, with all the clarity and impact of an Alfred Eisenstaedt photograph, I remembered the catalyst for my dread of corn silk and husk. I don't remember how old I was at the time, maybe eight or ten years old, but my mother and her best friend Barbara Cartwright had decided that they were going to can corn to preserve it for later use. That was back in the day when most households preserved fruit and vegetables to save money and add variety to the diet during the winter months.

Mom and Barbara bought a load of corn. In my mind, for years, I would swear that it was a dump-truck load, but I'm sure it was just a pickup truck. The image of that mountain of corn, green and bright and smelling like, well, corn, is burned into my mind's eye.

At any rate, they had the corn delivered to our driveway and then mom and Barbara went to work. They also recruited help, and since they were saving money, they didn't pay the help. What they did was use indentured labor - i.e., their kids. The memories of this time which I hold are of me and my sisters Sam and Chris, mom and Barbara and her boys Steve, Tracy and Perry. All of us together shucking corn, removing the husks and silk, battling the worms and earwigs (how many do YOU think we found in a million ears of corn?) and laughing.

We laughed and we talked, and talked and laughed. There were jokes and people throwing bugs and corn. Lots and LOTS of corn. And if you thought you could get away from the corn by going into the house, then you got drafted to help dad and using the cutters to take the corn off the cobs. The cutter looked like a metal U-shaped wire with what I thought was a bent saw blade rolled into a circle to slide down the cob that was impaled on a board with a nail to hold it in place. Wet, messy and smelling of corn. (I detect a theme.)

Mom is gone, and I haven't seen Barbara for way too long. Tracy I run into once in a while and Steve and Perry are still out there. Sam was taken a few years ago and Chris is another story altogether. I can still hear the laughter. I can still feel the heat of summer in Logan and hear the crickets as we worked way into the night.

I still like to eat corn, I just hate to shuck it. But I love the memories of the friends and families that I miss.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Friends - part II

I've mentioned previously that I belong to a web forum for motorcycle riders and I want to share with you what a fantastic group of guys they are. Patrick, one of the members, has been working on an older bike and had been making progress with the repairs and took his bike for a ride. While riding, he noticed fire "dripping" from the bike. He got stopped, tried to put the fire out but sadly, a beautiful piece of machinery was destroyed. Thankfully, Patrick wasn't seriously injured other than some burns to his hands.

His reaction was typical following a loss such as this, Patrick was ready to throw in the towel as he knew he couldn't replace the bike. He was even considering dropping from the forum. The first replies were typical condolences but the thing that drew my attention was that almost immediately, post number seven to be exact, someone suggested that the members of the forum step up and send what they can, any amount, to help Patrick out. I don't know what the total is currently, but as of yesterday $1300 has been donated towards his replacement. Patrick is already shopping around for a new (to him) bike.

What a great group of guys. From a small beginning of a handful of riders in Ireland to a group of riders that are found all over the world, the brotherhood and friendship of this forum never fail to humble me.

And while I am not in a position to help Patrick out this time, something else will come up and maybe I will be in a better position to offer more than encouragement.

Additionally, I would encourage you to do something. Help out when you can, sometimes at a sacrifice. You will be blessed, the people you help will be bless more so. Donate blood. Donate your time. Sometimes, just giving someone a shoulder to cry on or an ear to vent in is enough. (Thank you Kathy.)

And, just in case you want to read a great tribute to some fine people, here is a link to the thread on that forum: Bike Fire

Ride safe.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New old friends

I got a text message from an old friend the other night. She and I were co-workers for a while, and became friends and stayed friends after we no longer worked together. She's had a couple of hard times, both personal and professional, and we've talked through many of them. She's a true friend and I love her dearly.

She and I have managed to keep in touch via the occasional phone call, email and text messaging, however due to a couple of incidents outside of her control, she was forced to change her cell phone number. Things happen.

A couple of nights ago, I got a text message from a number I didn't recognize and my first thought was that it had been a while since we've spoken. "How are you doing?" she asked. "Good, but I miss you" was my reply. "I miss you too!" came back. We went back and forth for a bit and then she said something that just didn't sound right.

"Why did she ask THAT?" I wondered. Then it hit me and suddenly I wondered if I was really speaking with her. It was late enough and I was amused enough that I just wanted to make sure I wasn't embarrassing someone. Wrong number calls go through, so do text messages.

"I don't think I'm who you meant to text." I sent. "Sure you are" the response flew back. "I hope so" I sent back. Her reply was "You're still *** and I'm still not ***." (Yeah, just a modicum of privacy here.)

Okay, she knows that about me, maybe it is her. Then I asked her if she was sure and her reply was "Yeah, it's Lori."

Not the name I was thinking of.

Doesn't even have enough letters.

Then, I thought back to our conversation which, while not intimate or anything, was personal, and I was brought up pretty short for a minute. Parallel universe? Wrinkle in time? Diverging planes of reality? Four people, two of which are conversing, who apparently share several circumstances. Then, through the magic of technology and serendipity, two of us managed to connect in a conversation.

The next thought I had was how amazed I was that two people who didn't know each other could be friends, as it were, without the foundation of shared knowledge or experiences. In truth, without any real knowledge of each other.

Am I blessed with friends? Yeah, I'd like to think so. True friends? The kind of friend that you can call in the middle of the night if you need help? Maybe not as many now. Through social networking sites such as FaceBook and the like, I've been lucky enough to reunite with some pretty great people from my past - people who I'll call friends. Would Kathy or Darrin come to me when I called at 3:00 AM? I doubt it. Are we still friends? Yes.

The difference is that they don't have the emotional investment and there has been a lot of time and distance since we were last a part of each other's lives. We have too many other personal demands on our lives and hearts and minds to commit to the casual relationships such as ours.

My findings? First, don't be too hesitant to make a friend. Sure, you want to be cautious and careful of the investment into the friendship, and there are a multitude of levels of friendship. Don't put yourself, or what you hold dear at risk by "creating" a friendship too quickly; there is obviously a growth rate to trust someone. Once you learn that and they earn that, you can build upon the trust and develop that friendship.

The next line from my is that friendships have value. All friendships have value. Some are measured in cents and some in dollars.

Last, and probably what I wanted to say most, be quick to be a friend to someone. Look at what you can invest, look at what you can give to someone, and give what you can. I know I can use all the friends I have and then some.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The "Big Ben" minute

During World War II, W. Tudor Pole, an English author, adventurer and businessman campaigned for what came to be called "The Big Ben Silent Minute." The chiming of the Big Ben clock in London at 9:00 PM took about a minute. The chimes were broadcast each night on BBC radio at the beginning of the 9:00 news. Pole suggested that the hearing of the chimes, either in person, or on the BBC should be accompanied by one minute of silent prayer for those who had been killed that day in battle as well as remembering all who had been killed in the war. Churchill supported the idea, which became known as the "Big Ben Movement."

Recently something similar has been occurring around the world. People of all faiths are taking a minute at Noon to pray for our service men and women. Praying for those who were killed or injured. And, most of all, praying for peace.

Regardless of how you feel about the war, regardless of which faith you follow, please take a minute each day and pray. Many people are setting alarms on their watches, cell phones or PDA's to remind them. Imagine the power of a few words of humble prayer coming from each of us. Please pass this along to anybody that you think would be interested.

Monday, June 21, 2010

32 Minutes or "The Bystander Effect"

32 minutes.

Try something. Scream. Scream for 32 minutes. See if anybody does anything to help. Heck, see if anybody even notices. Would YOU notice if someone was screaming for help for over a 1/2 hour? Would you try to help?

Not everybody would. Time was, you couldn't get the words asking for help out of your mouth and your neighbors, your friends would be right there. You couldn't swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting someone who wanted to help you. If they couldn't help, they knew someone that could or they would at least comfort you while you dealt with your troubles. Hold your hand. Give you a hug. Shed a tear with you.

32 minutes.

How many times have you been sitting on the bus or walking at the mall or supermarket and observed someone in need? Someone dropping a too big load because they didn't grab a cart or a basket. A lady walking down the isle at Ace Hardware with one arm full of wooden stakes and the other arm trying to handle 4 eight-foot lengths of wood that have decided they want to go anywhere but with her. Did you do anything to help? Did you try to wrangle the oranges that were heading for all points of the compass rather than go home with them?

32 minutes.

Is it too easy to think that someone else will help or that you "don't want to get involved" or might get in trouble for helping? Do you want to grant them their anonymity in their trouble as you don't want to embarrass them? Because that young mother with her infant in a carrier and the requisite diaper bag, spare clothes, other sundry equipment used to raise and feed a baby might feel threatened by the big fat guy in biker leathers with the scowling face and growling voice?

Why? Why don't you help?

32 minutes.

Kitty was born in New York and moved to Connecticut as a child, but moved back to New York when she was old enough to leave home. Living on her own in a two-floor walk-up and working late nights set the stage for what happened to her. Coming home from work one night she was assaulted. Stabbed, strangled, raped, robbed and murdered. Kitty suffered a horrible fate begging for help. Begging and screaming for help. For 32 minutes Kitty was brutally attacked not once, not twice but three times. For 32 minutes Kitty Genovese died a slow, painful death. And nobody helped her.

32 minutes.

Kitty Genovese was coming home from work, walking across the parking lot from her car and was attacked. Her attacker was once scared off, but then returned to resume the attack as she tried to run for help, seeking people in a bar that had closed early. People in her apartment building and the one next to it shut their windows, closed their blinds and would yell at her killer to "leave the girl alone" but wouldn't get involved. One lady wouldn't let her husband even call the police because "someone" must have already. Scared away a second time, Kitty was able to get to a vestibule where she tried to hide from her assailant. He returned a third time and and found her, her own blood trail leading him to her, where he then cut her clothing away with a knife, stabbing and strangling her while he raped her.

32 minutes.

The talking heads tell us that this is called the "Bystander Effect". This is where nobody wants to or is afraid to help someone in need. "Someone" will help. "Someone" will call. "Someone" will do something.

Whatever they call it, it is wrong. Courtesy? Manners? Chivalry? I don't care what you call it but it is lacking in our society. Catherine "Kitty" Genovese died March 13, 1964 beginning at 3:15 in the morning. 46 years ago, this was a newsworthy, noteworthy event. Now, it is a daily event. Shame on us. We can do better. Do we teach our children to do better? Do we live as an example to our children?

32 minutes.

Take a minute and look at your child or children. Take a look at your grandchildren, your nieces or nephews. How many of those 32 minutes are you going to let them scream for help? I believe that we have a stewardship to not only our family, our friends and those we know, but I believe we also have a responsibility to help those we don't know.

Yeah, I know that there are those that would prey on the very people that would offer them help. And I wouldn't put anybody else at risk while I helped someone, and I would certainly protect myself and offer assistance warily, but I try to help.

We owe it to Kitty Genovese.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Because it feels GOOD!

I belong to a web-forum of bike riders that, literally, has members from around the world. The
camaraderie, friendship, and even family that we have become is amazing. One of the members is currently teaching his son how to ride and took him for a ride one day. After a few hours they stopped for lunch and his son told him that he liked riding. When he asked him why, the only answer that he could come up with is "Because it feels good." Several forum members have chipped in with their answers and here is mine:

The alarm goes off and I groan; I'm still a little stiff and sore, but most mornings I am. As I lay there trying to wake up, I rotate my ankles and listen to them pop and snap as the bones re-align. Once they settle in, I can stand on them again. My back is stiff and pains race up and down my spine. Compressed vertebrae in my neck, healed rib fracture, and three more healed fractures in the lumbar region remind that I haven't always been nice to myself. Knees are OK so far, but I haven't tried the stairs yet. They'll remind me when I start that.

When I make fists, people can hear my tendons as they pop, the carpals and metacarpals in my hands grind audibly now. I tell myself brake- and clutch-levers are good exercise. I can usually straighten my fingers all the way on a good day. Stormy weather limits that sometimes. Some days I have to pull my fingers straight or twist the joints enough to get them to pop and unlock. Yeah, it's like that.

I slide the choke lever, turn the key on and hit the starter. The bike comes to life and I let the idle settle for a little before I twist the throttle enough to get the voltage display to start to show a charging state. She warms a little while I pack my crap into the trunk or panniers. Jacket, helmet, chin-strap, glasses and gloves. It's my starting mantra. Helps me to remember them all. By now, the bike is running smoothly and my pulse has quickened to the point that I start to feel alive again. I start to feel good again. Memories of David's Honda 125 that I really learned to ride on. The '73 Kawasaki Z1a that was my first bike. Then the Gold Wings: the 83i, 85a and now the current 90 1500.

I am settled into the saddle, now a part of something larger than I am; truthfully feeling that the sum of the two of us is greater than the whole. A reminder, to borrow a quote, "I'm not as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was." This bike, this machine, this extension of my desires and wishes, helps to make me feel better. "Because it feels good" is a great quote.

I get physically tired riding a bike, I don't get drowsy as I might in a car. Music goes with me: perhaps a Broadway soundtrack (Chicago, maybe Rent). Molly Hatchet, any of the Mussel Shoals groups, or Bob Seger can get me into trouble. Maybe I'm feeling Celtic today and it's Silly Wizard, Old Blind Dogs, Dougie McLean or the Wicked Tinkers. Could even be the Nickleback or Rush this time.

As with the ears, the nose gets a workout as well. Broken three times, I'm surprised sometimes that it stays with me, let alone lets me experience that wonderful scent of fresh mown lawn. The freshly baled hay in the field I rode past. The fall foliage assaulting my eyes at the same time that I can smell the leaf mast in the fall air. Or a sudden gust of apples ripening in the orchard, the late-night ambrosia of Honeysuckle, here and then gone.

Because it feels good says it all.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What would YOU say?

What would YOU say?

Although I like to look back and share fond memories with friends and family, I’m not real big on living in the past. You can’t change things and you can drive yourself into fits of anxiety playing “What if?” A friend of mine once commented that “If is one of the biggest words in the world.” I find myself in no position to argue the point.

Earlier today I found myself thinking about a friend from high school. Really, for some odd reason I found myself missing her. We managed to grow quite close, close enough to start thinking “serious” thoughts about after high school. We didn’t make any great plans, just imagined the situation. I met her because we worked together and I really liked her because she had such a great sense of humor. (Admit it, if someone laughs at your jokes, you like them.) We dated some, and would hang out together. We learned some things together and we taught each other some things about life. Although, if I were to be truly honest, she taught me more about life than I ever taught her. Not the touchy-feely kind of things, but things that probably made me less of a social retard. (Some who know me now would argue that the lessons took hold, but just imagine what I was like then.)

Of course there was a physical attraction - we were living in a high school environment fraught with hormones and lust! But I am glad to say that we had something more than that. Intimacy in the true sense of the word, not just talking about lust and physicality.

We grew quite close and shared a lot of thoughts, wishes and dreams. I have to say that I grew to truly respect her opinions and values. She taught me more than she will ever know. At one particular point in my life, a turning point if you will, she helped me make a decision that was brutally hard. A decision that was hard in a way that I knew that things were changing in me. A door once passed through, would close behind me and thrust me into a new world, a world of unknown circumstances to me and, without trying to sound overly-dramatic, possibly cost me friends and family. I have her to thank for talking me through this decision, with no thought of what this decision might cost her one way or another.

She gave me a gift that day that I couldn’t hold or touch, I couldn’t really see or even feel it, but know that it is there. I owe her a titanic debt of thanks and I doubt she knows to this day that this is how I feel.

All right, back to “What would YOU say?” Would you tell your friend thanks? Would that thanks ever be enough? Think back to when you were 16 years old. Think of the person that you were then. Would THAT person tell their friend thanks? I wish I had.

I regret to this day not telling her even the most humble “thank you” for what she did.

Things change. One of my favorite aphorism is “Life happens.” It does. Life is what happens while you are planning it. It slips right on past you. Sometimes, it slaps you right upside the head. Been there, done that. Well, life “happened” to us. Within a few months, life happened enough that we went separate ways. Mostly gracefully, but occasionally with emotions bent and feelings hurt. One night I handled something poorly and childishly. It wasn’t a situation that called for the reaction I gave it. To put it bluntly I over-reacted and lost a friend that I wish I had had the luck to keep.

So much for not being a social retard.

We lived on. We grew up and, I’d like to think in my case, matured. She went on with her life and met and married the man that she deserves. She has lovely children and a wonderful husband; she has a family that loves her in word and actions. She looks happy and I literally, in the true sense of the words, pray to God that she is happy.

Our paths haven’t crossed much. Once by accident, a freakishly awkward moment where we both pretended to not see each other, and a second time when I tried to reach out and tell her thanks for what she did for me. It was at a time that I happened to have a particularly meaningful, spiritual awakening. Sort of a growing or learning development. However it started, whatever the cause, I wanted to tell her thanks and hopefully apologize for being who and what I was way back then. An attempt to atone for myself. I was scared. I’ve been on the wrong end of guns and knives, I’ve found myself in places where it was fight or flight more than I want to think, with flight not much of an option. That happens sometimes with the type of jobs I’ve had and the locales I’ve been to. This was worse. Worse by far.

Disaster? Not even close. Apocalypse? Getting warmer…

Apparently, my efforts were less than well received. After a short, terse telephone conversation, we disconnected with no misunderstanding whatsoever how she felt about me. I don’t blame her, not the tiniest bit. Not one iota. This is totally my own fault and maybe if I had made a more timely effort it would have been better received. I don’t know. By the time I did make the effort, I had moved several times, to other states and back, and she had moved on herself. Emotionally and physically. I regret that by the time I did try, it was too late and caused her grief. That was never my intention.

Would I try to tell her again? Most assuredly yes! However, it’s her turn to make contact. Could I find her? With the knowledge I have now, and with the resources at my beck and call, yes I could find her within minutes. Could she find me? I think so. I’m not hiding and I think that I’ve left enough tracks for anybody that wanted to find me to do so.

I don’t expect her to reach out; I doubt there will ever be the bond of friendship between us. I don’t expect her to even think about me at this point. Although, if she and I were to sit down and compare coincidences in our lives, there are too many to disregard. She won’t call or write, and I will be the poorer man for that.

Given the chance, I would tell her thank you. Most graciously, and heartfelt, thank you. Literally from the depths of my heart. You gave me something I cherish and treasure, and you helped me be a better person. Most of the people I deal with today benefit because of the things you gave me. Please accept my gratitude and my respect, and know that I miss you. What can I say, I worry.