Today I am zipping down to DC to catch the auto train south to Orlando tomorrow. The weather is perfect, and the traffic is light, the low hills along the Trenton river are breathtaking. Yet I sit here melancholy.
The purpose of any solo motorcycle trip is to have extended time alone in your head; enjoying your thoughts, examining your soul, reviewing your past, imagining your future. It is a time for converting the loosest of ideas into rock solid commitments, (then going home to dig in). It is to feel the breeze in your face, the sun on your skin, and hear the beach boys in your helmet. Its days of freedom, punctuated by the joy of meeting up with old friends and making new ones as well.
The point is to let your head spin freely on worthy questions. The past is prologue: Who am I and why? How did I get here? In what ways would I correct the rudder of my destiny? What success do I wish in my future? What ways do I currently spend my leisure, my social activism, my learning … and does that align with who I want to be tomorrow? And what do I want as my legacy when I’m gone?
Last year I planned to spend around eight weeks, but I simply couldn’t stop. The lessons and insights were intoxicating, exhilarating, and snowballed week after week. I changed my name (to Duncan), took ownership of my failures, wrote essays parsing out my insights, each building on the previous. I recharted my course to the stars. Weeks turned into months, and this despite a blown engine.
I returned home in October, after five months and 10,000 miles, and only then because I was cold and wet and tired. My heart and my brain were still on fire. In all that time I didn’t watch TV, or read the paper, or look at any fb current events (despite the primaries and election, the olympics, the world series and the world cup games). I lived in the moment; and in the future, my future.
But not so this year.
It was only four weeks this year, and it somehow feels like wasted time. Yes, delightful to catch up with now old friends; to catch lightning in a bottle in city after city. But this year I am reading the newspaper, watching the TV news, posting pointless facebook rants about the Las Vegas shooting and reproductive rights; about America’s fascist policies and global politics, wasting my solitude, my brain cycles, my adrenaline and my … time. I’ve driven myself a thousand miles into the most beautiful surroundings, undulating hills with canopies of hardwood trees, only to waste it worrying about bills and repairs to a distant car and condo. I seem unable to to connect to the moment and ponder the heart and soul that I’m dragging around the countryside, right here under my skin.
In other words, my heart just isn’t in it this year. I guess that’s why I didn’t eagerly depart in May, or even wander off later, in July. Rather I rushed to fit the trip in before October’s chilly snows. After all, I said, I bought the URL “scootertrip17” so I better go on one. Right? But all these hours in the saddle have been spent with my mind cycling on pointless thoughts, daily aggravations, nonsense worries; the grimble of a tiny man leading a tiny life in a tiny world.
I am sad by this insight, and a little let down with myself. Maybe I’m still digesting last year’s lessons. Maybe there was too many loose ends “in the off season”. Maybe last year I was a free spirit because of the old adage “I didn’t know what I didn’t know”.
But Duncan; the unpublished author, feckless traveler, bon vivant and libertine; the insightful philosopher and amateur social scientist has ducked out of this trip. It’s been old me, a dweeb when I’m alone; brain racing 24/7 about nothing; being angry about pointless politics, snippy & sarcastic in my prose, picayune & spiteful, and physically confused and flustered. But worst is the cyclical thinking, and if you’ve lived it, you know.
It is so beautiful here. I’m going home.