I’m not a person that’s into New Year’s resolutions. I generally start and stop resolutions throughout the year prompted by nothing in particular and for no apparent reason. Sometimes I just get tired of things like towering junk mail piles, my less-than-stellar diet, or suffering from chronic muffin top syndrome. The weariness of it all will be just enough to motivate me to make some lifestyle changes (at least for a day or two). And other times, I decide to sort of reinvent parts of my life purely out of boredom…or because I’m worried I’ll miss out on a great opportunity.
A few years ago after my dad died, I started doing a lot of thinking about his life. He had a twin brother, grew up in on a lake in the country, and was one of 8 kids in a loving family. He served in World War II, got married, and raised four kids. He didn’t really have any complaints about his life, but what I knew was that there were so many things he wanted to try but never did. I recall his words shortly before he died: “Life goes so fast.”
By golly, I wasn’t going to let anything like this happen to me! When opportunity knocked, I’d answer that door – with my coat and shoes on, ready to go!
So, one summer day when my husband, Ron, wheeled his motorcycle out of the garage to take it for a spin, I heard a virtual knock on the tiny door inside of my head. I recalled years prior when an old boyfriend had offered to teach me how to ride his motorcycle but I declined, too worried I’d make a complete idiot out of myself in front of him. I always kind of regretted not learning that day because really, how cool would it be to be able to drive a bike? If you ask me, very.
So, I decided to ask Ron to teach me because after all, who cares what he thinks about me? I had already started thawing hamburger for dinner so I knew that even if I made a dunce out of myself he’d at least wait until after he ate supper that evening to pack his saddle bags and speed away into the sunset. He never passes up a meal — even ones I cook.
“Will you teach me to ride this thing?” I said, pointing at the old Kawasaki. I knew it probably wasn’t that complicated. After all, we rode snowmobiles together and it couldn’t be that different, could it?
A little shocked (and visually concerned) he agreed to give me a crash course. He had me hop on the back, and as we rode he explained things like shifting, braking, how to accellerate, and most importantly, the bright red kill button to stop the engine.
After a few treks around the neighborhood, he took me back to our driveway and said, “So, do you want to give it a try?”
“Yes!” I said excitedly. I was ready to go! No helmet? No problem! Dressed in shorts? That’s okay! After all, my husband was an EMT. If he thought I’d be in any kind of danger, he’d have dressed me up in that old knight’s suit of armor we keep lying around in our basement for emergency situations. I jumped on board and he quickly gave me a review of the controls.
“And don’t forget,” he reminded me. “Hit the red ‘stop’ button if you run into trouble.”
I slowly released the clutch and the bike inched forward.
“Good…good. Now give it a little gas,” Ron instructed.
That’s where things got a little bit fuzzy for me.
After giving it what I thought was a tiny drop of gas (and I stress “thought”), my head snapped back and I shot across the street like a bolt of lightning. Okay, I was probably only going about 4 miles per hour but it felt a lot faster. Especially when I was heading straight across the road for the neighbor’s open garage. At that very moment, I realized that operating a motorcycle is in no way, shape, or form like driving a snowmobile. In fact, I was pretty sure that the brakes and gas were on opposite handles – although, I wasn’t certain because I didn’t remember a thing that Ron had just told me.
It was when I was about half-way across the street that Ron must have realized his beloved bike was in danger of getting scratched and he began sprinting after me wildly yelling, “Hit the red button! Hit the red button!”
Red button? What red button? The only thing I saw was Ron, now running alongside me with flailing arms, the neighbors through their living room window watching Wheel of Fortune, and me heading straight for the shovels and pick axes hanging on the back wall of their open garage.
I don’t’ know if Ron actually hit the stop button or if I did by accident when I pulled an Evel Knievel on the curb at the edge of the driveway. But somehow, I ended up dumping the bike before I actually forged a new exit through the rear of the neighbor’s garage.
“Are you all right?” my husband asked pulling the bike off of me. He pretended he was talking to me but I’m pretty sure he was really talking to the Kawasaki.
Despite seventh degree burns on my leg from the muffler (good thing I wore shorts) and being just a tiny dot embarrassed (because I realized a guy down the street had witnessed the entire episode), I was actually fine. And what was weird is that when I looked up at our neighbor’s house, I could see them still seated on their sofa, eyes glued to their television screen. How did they not see anything? Or hear anything for that matter, not that I wasn’t relieved.
I learned a lesson that day. I’ve been a bit more selective about opportunities I’ve decided to grasp. There are things I will try if I know I’ll never have the chance to do them again but I guess, especially as I get older, I’ve decided that safety comes first.
Now…a few other things I still want to try some day are knitting and bird watching. I don’t think I need chaps or a helmet for either.
Are there things in your life that you want to try? Dreams that you want to accomplish?
If you enjoy my blog, vote for me by clicking the banner below (no helmet required).And don’t forget to subscribe to my RSS feed to stay up-to-date with the latest posts!