Burdens of the present

- Jun 12, 2014
I think riding a motorcycle is a little bit like riding a bike: you never really forget how. And going for that first ride on my new bike was pretty exciting. Nonetheless, it is almost fifteen years since I last rode a motorcycle so I had a little bit of hesitation the first time I went out. I mean, I remembered where to put my hands and feet; but I think riding is more than just mechanical-when you are comfortable on your bike it just feels…right. However, being a novice and still wanting to master the mechanical, I went to an empty parking lot with my brother for my first ride. Mostly because there are no cars in an empty lot and I thought it might take me a few minutes to get my sea-legs back.

Really, I thought that I might stall the bike half a dozen times followed by three or four falls adding a few more battle scars to the Radian. I keep referring to it as the Radian. I feel like important things in one’s life should have a name. We name our pets and our children, after all; so I find myself referring to my bike by name. At any rate, I didn’t stall the Radian (which made me feel good), and I didn’t fall over (which made me feel even better) and I spent a productive half hour or so puttering around the parking lot practicing starts and stops and slow turns and figure eights. I felt like that was time well spent. 

After that I felt like I was ready to move out of first gear and onto the street. There I learned something very important about riding: it’s really fun. I’ve spent the better part of the last decade driving a minivan so you can understand how enjoyable the Radian’s speed and maneuverability is by comparison. However, I think the fun also stems from a fundamental difference between driving and riding. I drive to work, to the store, to school, to do errands. My van is pretty essential for us to make life work. But, unlike the Radian, I don’t spend time just driving it around.

I ride not because I have to; but because I want to. Unlike my van, the Radian isn’t a means to an end; but an end in itself. It’s not about transportation as much as it’s about, well, living. There are a lot of moving parts in life, and plenty of obligations and responsibilities that demand resources of time and energy. There are things to worry about. Maybe even a little fear. For me, the obligations and fears of tomorrow often creep into the work of today making burdens that the present isn’t fit to bear.

That changes the moment I sit on my bike. Riding requires me to commit completely to the moment and any regrets about the past and worries about the future are, in the moment, rendered obsolete. And in this life that is both necessary and beautiful. There is a mental awareness that riding demands of me: the surface of the road, the sound of the engine, the flow of traffic, pedestrians. Moreover, there is a rhythm and a certain grace to riding that I am discovering: music in the engine’s resonance, a fluidity to the way it moves and a thrill of the open air on my face. There is something about riding that is not only technical; but is genuinely artistic. Like dancing. Or poetry.

I think that all art reminds us there is joy and beauty in life that is not only worth seeing, but that is worth taking the time to see. And while these things may be remembered in the past and hoped for in the future, they live in the moment. If I want to experience them I will have to live in the moment too. And the Radian takes me there.

~David J. Balfour

David Balfour was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and has since lived in Edmonton, Alberta, as well as British Columbia’s Cariboo and Kootenay regions before settling in the Okanagan. David has had a variety of career tangents through the years: he was a roadie for a rock band in the 1990s, he worked on a mushroom farm, completed a Bachelor of Arts degree, owned a small business and is currently completing his Education degree at the University of British Columbia.

David is new to the world of motorcycles in general and MotoVida in particular. However, a love found later in life is better than a love never found at all. He lives in Kelowna, BC with his wife, Lindsay and their four children, Emma, Annie, Aidan and Cordelia, and the Radian, his motorcycle.

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