The dream never went away. Even though I didn’t attend to it. I suppose it realised that I wasn’t ready. So it was content to show itself, shyly, sometimes hinting at the invitation, never forcing. But when I was ready, even though I didn’t realise, it stepped forward, bold at last. Perhaps it knew somehow that the other dream would drop me, again, and that this time I’d not chase to force its survival. So the dream called again, and this time I answered.
And that, friends, is how I ended up astride a Victory Cross Country motorcycle riding through the crisp autumn air and amber leaves of the New England states of the USA. “Fall,” that’s what they call it over there, not autumn.
The Victory is a marvellous motorcycle motivated by a 106-ci V-Twin which delivers serious torque. Clad in simple, effective design with few frills it fits this biker well. The sound system and speed cruise control are extras that do make a big difference on a long ride.And although the packing space is quite tight, I’m a trail runner and we don’t need much stuff. The belt drive accelerates smoothly and the braking allows for some exciting cornering.
Now imagine that in the context of miles and miles of every colour on God’s Good Earth, awesome little back roads and a super friendly biking community such as one finds only in the States. As riders pass each other they always hang their left hand out with a peace sign. And stopping to take a picture is a challenge as they stop to, “See if you’re okay, Bud?”
So it’s a good place and season to motorcycle. It’s also a good place to deal with the black dogs of your ignored self that have been following you around as you have kept busy and distracted to avoid them. Mine move in a pack, just beyond the edges of my civilised life. Some have sharp teeth and not many were neutered as puppies. It’s scary, man.
There are so many similarities to a long solo trail run that this article writes itself as I ride along listening to Chris Rea’s, “Stony Road.”
Trails call us. Patiently waiting, persistently offering, they call us. The give us the sense of raw power combined with the simple effectiveness of our moving bodies. And when we find another trail trotter, that inevitable hand is raised in greeting. And the dogs, ah, the voices of our by-passed selves come out to play when we run far, alone in nature. Perhaps that’s why we do it?
From the moment I answered the call of this dream to come here, and ride this bike, through these leaves, I began to be Me again.
Not the façade me, forcing and pressing all things to meet the unending needs of others and the too often unrelenting expectations of myself. Not the me chasing deadlines, to-do lists and in-boxes that grow faster than I can shrink them. Not the me saying: “later,” and, “after this,” and compromising the things that really matter for the things that shout louder and look cleverer.
The me that won’t be able to hide at the end began to be. Bolder, more obvious and present, like the dream itself.
I find it amazing how Real Things are content to wait, to be ignored even. They don’t dress up, make-up, compromise, negotiate. They are, happy to be, regardless of what we make of them. Perhaps it is because they know they are Real and won’t be numbed away by any of our avoidance strategies. I think so. We only complicate our healing when we dodge Pain. That’s why barefoot technique is so much healthier and safer too.
And that is why trails get Me. Knowing that we must choose the risk and cost, they offer exposure in return for authenticity, and then wait, solid and real. Like the call of this dream to ride this motorcycle through these leaves scattered across this landscape. Trails don’t need to force and press anything. They don’t need us to run them. They were here before us and will be here after us. And yet they care. They call. They invite, shyly when necessary, boldly when appropriate, but always inviting: “Come, run, be you … Face the pain, however old; talk to the black dogs, however fierce”.
I wonder whether, like me, you sometimes lose touch with you? Perhaps you also try to avoid the dark sounds hoping they’ll disappear under this hectic work week, this bottle, or this other person in whom you can hide for a while?
Perhaps, like me, you also run trails to stop dodging and face the truth?
If not, no worries – it doesn’t matter, then, and it doesn’t mind.
But if it is so for you then join me in honouring this illusive, transcendent truth and run a trail without delay. Run it because it doesn’t insist or need you. In turn it will remind you of who you really are. Honour the trail with your sweat and it will return the honour by reviving the authentic You that will be there at the end.
In my book that’s the only thing that should matter. Really.