Don’t Forget to Remember

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When you’re down, it’s time to get out.

I remembered this important axiom of mental health yesterday. Or rather, I was reminded of it, by my girlfriend – who gently suggested we take the old Kaw out for a ride after an especially wearying day. The ones and zeroes that somehow generate the appearance of EPautos had misaligned or whatever it was that went awry and EP has the same affinity for ones and zeroes that Joe Biden has for the Bill of Rights.

What to do? My ape-like reaction was to sulk and fume, alternatively. If I’d had an old tire hanging from a rope, I would have swung from it while gesticulating angrily through the bars.

And not made it any better.

But the Kaw did. I needed the medicine – and the reminder.

Like many, I sometimes get bogged down and tied up in work and other things that have a tendency to make you forget about the important things. These are the things you’ll look back on fondly one day – and which you’ll regret not having done more of at the end of your days. Work pays the bills. It may even be important work, beyond just the paying of the bills. But there is more to life than work, something I have to constantly remind myself of – sometimes need to be reminded of.

The old Kaw – a 1976 Kawasaki Kz900 – had been sitting patiently under cover and on the battery tender for the past two months-plus. Of summer. Which is almost over. How did this happen?

It happens with depressing frequency, as anyone who owns or has owned an old bike or classic car can – or someday, will – attest. Life and stress creeps up on you, like roadside Kudzu. Your intentions are good. We’ll ride this weekend. But then the weekend comes – and the grass needs to be cut, the kids have practice or (as in my case) the coop needs to built, plans need to be considered as regards the siting of the greenhouse. There is always something – or so it weighs on you – and it gets worse as you get older, in part because you get older. You aren’t the Energizer Bunny in middle age that you were in youth.

You get done with the stuff that has to get done and then you’re done.

There is no more energy left, even if there is time. You want the sofa and to able to close your eyes for just awhile. And then it’s tomorrow and we’ll ride next weekend, maybe. Before you know it, two months and most of the summer is gone.

How now green Kaw?

I walk past the bike – two bikes, the other another old Kaw – every day on my way out to do something else besides ride. Each time I do, I think to myself – tomorrow. Yes. I’ll ride then. And then something comes up, something that frazzles me – like the ones and zeroes – and the life force wilts and the bikes just sit.

This is a bad spiral – for the bikes and for me. You, too – if you have the medicine in the garage and refuse to take it. It’s a weird and self-destructive hang-up some of us have. It is fueled by this feeling of obligation – to everything except ourselves. This is the etiology of dust-collecting. It is why so many classic bikes and cars sit neglected – and their owners, too.

The solution is not to sell them, the mistake many make. All this does is encourage more marinating in the things that you won’t regret not having done more of – and spent more existential angst on – when you are at the end of your road.

I needed a reminder, of that.

And thanks to that, I backed up my chair and left the computer just sitting there, for a change. Out in the garage, the Kaw waited. The blanket came off and I was reminded of how good she looks – of how she makes me feel, just looking at her. Resplendent in deep green with gold striping accents; the big air-cooled four’s pistons waiting to dance. I unhooked the tender and backed her out into the sunlight. Fuel tap on, choke lever up.

Would she respond after months of neglect? She always does – part of the reason I love her so and now (once again) I remember why. A little smoke, the result of all that sitting. But within seconds, the Keihins are sucking air in proper syncopation and the old Kaw is ready to roll.

The sun warmed our faces, the wind on our skin invigorated our senses. With every shift (and squeeze from behind) I began to feel better.

We gave her a good workout – and got worked out, ourselves. Ivermectin may cure the ‘Rona, but an hour in the saddle heals the soul.

Don’t forget this. I almost did.

. . .

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23 COMMENTS

    • Thanks, Passport!

      We went out again yesterday, too. This time on the ’83 Honda. I still haven’t gotten around to rebuilding the starter. But I got her started and figured as long as we didn’t stop, we’d be okay.

      And so, we didn’t!

  1. When my son bought his bike, I told him (he’s seen at least two of my bikes growing up) that after a bad day at work, you get on the bike, and in a few miles it’s all forgotten.

    Few months later he gave me another “Wow, dad, you were right”

  2. That was a really cool article, Eric, and I’m right there with you, mired in an endless queue of tasks that must be completed before I get somewhere. Anywhere.

    I don’t have a motorcycle, and not sure what I’d have in its place. Oh, wait, maybe I do. Science for one. Not “The Science” of Fauxi, but astronomy, chemistry, micro, cell and molecular biology. Not done for evil or money, or even recognition or accolades, but just for the triumph of discovery and knowing. Knowing what is possible or might be possible. Knowing that I am capable of so much. Capable of creation, synthesis, experimental design. Not for the ego, but for the peace of mind. Possibly bringing about something that no one ever has seen or understood.

    And of course, some of it is just about me sitting in the dark, viewing ancient nuclear fireballs across vast distances, interspersed between sips of whiskey and smiles about what could be.

  3. Eric, Ever since I stopped commuting to the office as I work from home, 3+ days per week I commute to a coffee shop and back home before work on one of my bikes. Sometimes a sportbike, sometimes harley or classic bike depending on my mood and whose carb needs fresh gas flow. Makes the work week bearable, you should try something like that, especially with all that is going on

    • Indeed, Anchar!

      I’m down to the one that runs… the ’83 needs a starter rebuild. My ’03 needs its rear wheel put back on (which I can’t do until I clean the chain). But the Kz900 is still operational… so there’s that!

        • I have a 73 Guzzi V7 Sport that only needs assembly. All was done by the guineas in New York. My only hesitation is that I lightened the flywheel too much, It will blow up at 6500 or for sure at 6800. New gearbox and rear end.
          You can have my Buell 992 on the cheap with nearly a thousand miles.

  4. ‘My ape-like reaction was to sulk and fume, alternatively. If I’d had an old tire hanging from a rope, I would have swung from it while gesticulating angrily through the bars.’ — eric

    Ah, that is poetic, Nabokovian: ‘As far as I can recall, the initial shiver of inspiration was somehow prompted by a newspaper story about an ape in the Jardin des Plantes, who, after months of coaxing by a scientist, produced the first drawing ever charcoaled by an animal: this sketch showed the bars of the poor creature’s cage.’

    Chained in the Depublicrats’ cave, unable to turn our heads, all we can see is the wall. Behind us burns a fire. Between the fire and ourselves is a parapet, along which Biden’s puppeteers scuttle, holding up agitated, gesticulating puppets that cast shadows of inscrutable struggle on the wall of our cave.

  5. There’s a vast gulf between what has to be done and what needs to be done, and another between those and what should be done, or one wants to be done. All leaving out what one wills to do, now. If you can’t spare an hour or two, or three, for a bike ride, you’ve got too much on your plate.
    When someone apologizes for delaying me, I respond, “I’m in no hurry. If I’m in a hurry, I’ve made a mistake”.

    • True, John –

      But it’s a unique time. I’m pouring all I have into this fight, bringing to bear what I can. It is that important to me – because I know how important it is to everything else.

      • It is a unique time, and I applaud those like yourself who are dedicating yourselves to solving it. I am unable in large part, being old and broken. But one must not forget to live. Else one may forget what it is they are fighting for, and get lost. If one dedicates ALL their time to survival, one may miss the point of doing so.

  6. Nice reminder Eric, racing down the hiways and byways, top down, wind in my hair, sun on my face makes the problems of the world disappear like dust in the wind. Having a car that I love for the first time in my life is a change of pace that was much overdue. For the last thirty years every vehicle I owned was based on maximum efficiency for making money.

    A BMW or Kawasaki dual sport has been on my list since this recent unpleasantness began. Used to love riding in my twenties, now I’m not so sure if I still have the skills required.

  7. Great article Eric.
    As I was approaching my 50’s I realized I needed to double down on a little fun. I guess I am a good observer, as I have always observed what my friends and associates lives are like and why. Who is happiest, or not, and why.
    I also realized that work, life’s responsibilities, etc…. will always be there. It’s up to us to make the time for our own fun and ‘healing the soul’.
    I went on a rampage to change my life. My wife bought into the message (and the efforts). We had to double and triple down to accomplish it, but we did. As I always say to my family and friends ‘good things in life are never easy’, or ‘if was easy anyone can do it’.
    I can say with happiness that we accomplished our goals, took many years.
    And now with that work-to-result is out of the way, we are quadrupling down on getting drama and unhappy people away from us, and working on our happiness.
    I still don’t ride my bikes as much as I would like, but I have more in the past few years than 10 years prior. My wife, the same with her interests and passions.
    One thing that hurts me is I try to get my close friends to buy into the idea/message and for the normal reasons, they mostly don’t. I try to use a shock message like ‘I will say nice things at your funeral’, which gets a laugh, but it doesn’t change anything.
    I hope your article shows people the light.

    • “It’s up to us to make the time for our own fun and ‘healing the soul”
      Indeed, when a long time friend once told me they didn’t have time for more contact with me, I simply pointed out that they had exactly the same amount of time as everyone else. The rest of your life. What time you have for anything is determined by how you choose to spend it.

  8. I no longer ride; my neck of Dixie has too many imported yankees & traffic is nightmarish. We’ve become Atlanta. Sure do miss crusin’ on the hog this time of year, tho.

  9. I am glad you were able to get a break, Eric. Everyone needs to pause from time to time. It rejuvenates our batteries and our mind. Just getting out and doing something different from our normal day to day routine. We spend so much focusing on what has to be done – work, errands, chores, etc. that we forget our bodies and mind need to rest for more than eight hours. One should never feel guilty for taking a few hours, days, or weeks off to gather themselves and to do something that they enjoy immensely.

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