The wind caught my hair, and I could feel myself smiling . . . behind the screen of a bright yellow motorcycle helmet.
I had never been one to dream of riding a motorcycle; it just didn’t seem like something I’d really enjoy. I was totally wrong. There was something so real and immediate about the experience that I hope I’ll dream of the sensation every night.
The first thing I noticed as my friend started up his bike and picked up speed on the driveway was how unmediated and direct my experience of driving suddenly became. In a car, it’s so easy to think I’m alone and still. But on a motorcycle, that tree I’m passing at 60 mph has the texture and scent of life. The drag on the helmet actually moves my neck. The pavement shimmers with mica and oil as we lean into a curve. This is what motion is supposed to feel like – tangible, risky, real.
As I settled into my seat, I noticed my arms wrapped around my friend’s waist. His lungs expanded beneath my hands; I could feel his very life moving in him. When he decided to pick up speed, I could feel his torso anticipate and move forward. When he took a curve, his entire body leaned. I found myself naturally following suit.
I was a passenger on this ride. I had no decisions to make. There was nothing I could do to protect myself or to control the situation, and I had no need for protection or control. My friend has my complete trust, and I knew he would do only what was safe and what would give me the fullest joy possible of this experience. So I just leaned into his back and rested. I felt my lungs expand, my shoulders drop, and my face settle into placid joy.
As a writer, I have the same experience. I try to peel away the layers of mediation and see the rawest experience. I wrap my arms around my story and feel it breath against my skin. I ride along to see where the words go and when I might pick up speed, lean into the edge of the moment, and just ease into a beautiful straight line.
When I write well, when I find myself settling into the seat of the story and losing sight of all but the story I am telling, I now have the perfect metaphor. It’s having a good friend you trust taking you out on his motorcycle and giving you the gift of his joy.
I’m not sure we looked this awesome, but in my mind, we definitely did.