14 September 2008

Living in the now

For the past month or so, I’ve been reading a lot of posts about the end of summer and the beginning of autumn. Some have noted the brevity of summer and have been fretting the number of rides that are left in the season before the temperatures plummet and the snow begins to fall. I admit that those same thoughts have been rattling around in my mind as well.

I have never really put my bike to bed in the winter months; usually the weather during that time of the year is mild enough for me to steal a ride at least a couple of times a month; Last year wasn’t really one of those “mild winters”. Perhaps that is why summer seems to have come and gone so quickly for me. Usually, as the season’s age, I find myself looking forward to the change, that hasn’t been the case this year, not with summer at least.

The long winter of last year found me a number of times stuck on either the “at home” or the “at work” end of my commute with a closed road blocking the way to my destination. That’s never happened in all of the years that I have spent out here on the Palouse. By the time spring finally arrived, I was worn out, almost everyone around here was. Our spring didn’t help that much either; cold and rainy and generally miserable, there was even a dusting of snow and frost in June (another first for me around here)! I wasn’t ready for summer to end, not yet, and that’s a shame, because autumn is my favorite time of year.

Round barn on the Palouse

I awoke this morning to the usual ritual of what has become my alarm clock on the weekends, which is a 90 lb. German shepherd bouncing on my bed like “Tigger” taking playful random bites at whatever part of my body resists. There is no “snooze” button on this alarm clock other than getting up and getting a start on the morning. The interesting part of this alarm clock is that usually once I have finished my shower and have begun my normal morning routine, Flicka (that’s the name of said alarm clock) usually lies down and takes a nap, go figure.

With the chores of my morning routine complete, I geared up for a ride. As I started dressing for the ride, somewhere in the back of my mind, I couldn’t stop thinking of how many of these perfect mornings remained and all of the things that I had left to complete on my “to do” list, decking, fencing, yard work, painting, how soon would my truck get out of the paint shop to begin doing some of this heavy stuff, things like that.......... All of this needs to be done before the snow flies, the brisk morning air serving as a reminder that my days are limited.

Throwing my leg over the bike and giving the transmission a gentle stab into first gear, all of those concerns wander off.

We settle into a mild canter, my bike and I, weaving our way through the quiet roads of the Palouse. All around me are shades of brown, yellow and green; some of the shades are of fields of recently harvested wheat while others are fields still waiting to be reaped; some will lay fallow for a season, giving them a chance to rest, and a few are freshly sewn in tight rows. Throughout the ride, my bike, as always, doesn’t complain; she thumps a steady cadence down the highway.

In her own special way, without words, without any language at all except for providing me with the experience of the cool September air rushing by and the sun riding a little lower in the sky, casting longer shadows on the buttes and valleys and the occasional scent of soil recently turned over by the farmers plow, she conveys the importance of living in the present.

Paraglider sailing the Autumn wind
beneath me.

In her eloquence, she reminds me that it is the ride we are on, this one now; no thoughts of yesterday’s commutes or concerns of tomorrow’s imminent storms, it is about the two of us in the present and enjoying the birth of yet another Autumn.

My bike and the way she keeps me in the present moment, she is special that way, perhaps all bikes are.

Realize deeply that the present moment

is all you ever have.

Eckhart Tolle

Ride well.



Charlie said...

The beauty of living in the moment is there are an infinite amount of moments to experience.

Chris said...

I never think of the future. It comes soon enough - Albert Einstein

irondad said...

I try to live that way all the time but the only time I'm really successful is on the bike. Perhaps bikes are some sort of time machines, after all. Not the kind that moves us forwards or backwards, but keeps us rooted right here and now.

Nice post!

Doug C said...


Heinz & Frenchie said...

This is our first visit to your blog, found you via Lance's blog. Nice images and beautiful writing. Living in the moment, isn't that what all of us strive to do? Sounds like you are a success!

Kano said...

I think you've touched upon the very reason that keeps me riding, it's the "in the moment" experience that draws me. Riding is like a meditation in motion. -as far as putting bikes away for the winter. It would be very difficult for me to live in a place that I couldn't ride year round.

Lance said...

Great way of describing the feeling or riding! Also, your picture of the round barn is amazing!

Lance said...

I should have proofed better - the feeling "of" riding!

Earl Thomas said...

Charlie: Often times, my mind can’t keep up every moment and I often find myself revisiting those moments of the ride long after I have finished for the day.

Chris: That’s a good way to put it.

Irondad: I’m getting a little better at living in the moment as I get older; perhaps the bikes have been helping me practice the art.

Doug: Thanks

Heinz & Amp: Frenchie: Welcome, I’m getting a little better at the practice of not worrying so much about the future or the past. When I was in my twenties I was so consumed with my past regrets and future concerns that I was totally missing one of the most important parts of life. I don’t miss the past, but I don’t regret it anymore either, I don’t worry about the future that much either, not like I used to.

Kano: I often wondered at how great it would be to live in the southern United States, to be able to ride pretty much year round, I think that I would miss the Pacific Northwest too much though, and the seasons.

Lance: Thanks, that barn is located just east of Pullman, Washington. Sometimes I feel sorry for the old gal who still lives there (her father built that barn back in the 20’s), it’s so photogenic that many of the times that I ride past, there is usually one or two people taking a photo. I was the only one that day, I stopped and took it from the saddle of the bike with my point and shoot and then quickly got on my way so that I wouldn’t disturb her privacy.


Biker Betty said...

What a great post and beautiful photos. I've been thru Washingon many years ago, when I was living in California, and it's a beautiful state.

Thanks for stopping by. I'm adding you to blog list.

Earl Thomas said...

Biker Betty: Thanks, I'll add you to my blog list as well.


Touring Motocycle Tires said...

I call it living one day at a time; like tomorrow will never come!
I love the landscape! Beautiful!