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The Return: Motorcycles, Music and the State of America

 I am not a motorcyclist. I am not built for months on the road with nothing but asphalt, bars and new faces approaching with each bend. No, I ride a motorcycle for the feel and not the checklist approval. I love the rush of the engine accelerating. I enjoy the stories and company of the true believers I have met along the way. I appreciate their “God bless” even though our gods are inherently distant from the other’s. I am no grease monkey. I ride the wrong machine for the course. I know the siren song of the road, but like mighty Ulysses, I am purposely tied to a post that keeps me on the ship. The adventure to Nashville reminded me of who I am and how I became myself.

As for rode in along the QEW to Toronto, I felt a tremendous sense of relief. I had survived nine days of travel through New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio and Indiana. While many would minimize my journey, I do not. I know how hard anything past 200 miles a day can be. I have heard the voices of doubt in my ears as I hit the next stretch of highway. This was my life’s big road trip adventure; I minimize nothing.

Photo 2015-07-26-7

The author, Joseph Campbell, writes that one of the West’s great challenges is that it has lost the thread of transformation. We aim to remain young forever and thereby deny ourselves the experience of growing older, of thriving within maturity and being truly amazing creatures. Imagine if a wine chose to always be young, a steak refused to age or a cigar felt sexier green in the leaves. To ignore our life’s stages is not only sad, but it it is criminal against our larger community who needs men and women to play the eternal, mythical roles our narratives need to have foundation.

The greatest moments of my adventure were found when I had come through the gauntlet and day’s challenges. Hearing Dale Watson sing takes of drunken loss, hope and humour in Nashville’s Station Inn was priceless. Speaking with strangers at Rabbit Hash, Kentucky, about their mottled philosophies resonated with me deeply. Giving a waitress at a greasy Shoney’s diner in Charleston a 100% tip to brighten her day made me feel like a real man. Learning about bourbon at the Buffalo Trace distillery from a retired rye farmer gave me a sense of history and continuity with every word he drawled. As my iPhone and wallet hit the i65 highway at 70 miles per hour, I experienced the loss of society’s artificial identity constructs. Money blew in the wind, credit cards splintered, ID was offered up to the gods of the road and my phone in its Lifeproof case died a quick death. The iPhone was never recovered and represented a $600 loss. Better the electronics and identity than the body that held both. A Good Samaritan collected much of my cash, a functional debit card blew by, and the Bison Made wallet survived incessant hits from cars and transport trucks as it blew down the road. The wallet, leather in material, survived the best that could be thrown at it. I would rather be the skin of the wallet than the plastic of our new age.

 The purpose of my adventure is fulfilled: a have a tale worthy to tell grandchildren who may never hear me speak the story. I survived and came home fully intact. I spoke to people who I would not always make the time for in my busy day. I experienced cities and towns along the chosen path. I developed as a man who rides a motorcycle, and I feel a catharsis for now longer needing to ask “what if” or breathe “some day” in wistful tones.

 My day was spent rewriting the first chapter of my novel, getting a proper beard trim and haircut at Rod, Guns & Barbershop, and ordering a new, safe Schuberth S2 helmet to retire the one I have been wearing for six years. I will be heading home in a week to Prince Edward Island to spend time with family, long lost friends and mentors, and to reconnect with all that grounds my foundations. Until then there is my third sleeve appointment with Kyle Holingdrake, a song to finish recording in my studio and a night listening to my favourite artist, Darren Eedens, who has returned for a short time from Cardiff, Wales and his extensive EU touring. Prodigal sons, prodigal sins…I have returned to stay and embrace my next transformation.

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