I just finished a Harley Davidson Rider’s Edge motorcycle class. I’ve ridden dirt bikes, snowmobiles, jet skis…but never a motorcycle (legally). I’ve always wanted a motorcycle license, if not for the alternative (and clichéd) lifestyle statement it seems to make (can you say ‘biker chick’? Actually, please don’t. It’s insulting), but more to learn the skill of riding for riding’s sake.
It’s cool and different, and – my favorite reason – it involves a slight repositioning to the fuzzy gray area just outside my comfort zone.
It’s a bit like having a basic knowledge of golf – it’s a good skill for the tool chest (I say that like I play golf…I don’t, but it’s on the list).
There were a myriad of factors to consider before I finally registered – my age, my gender, my hand-eye coordination…and the contingent factors, such as how it would ‘look’ to others (I know, it’s petty but we’re all guilty of it), whether I would actually buy a motorcycle and use this newfound skill – but ultimately I decided to press ahead. It’s hard to explain, but it felt like an invisible hand was pushing me forward through the forest of objections. It was like I had to do it.
My step-son not-so-supportively suggested it was a mid-life crisis. Could be.
As night one of the class approached, my mind swirled with all kinds of objections, punctuating my thoughts with all the what-ifs associated with this endeavor in little vignettes of calamity. My inner voice sounded like one of those prescription medicine commercials (narrator, in a flat, over-medicated monotone voice: may result in serious injury; side effects include embarrassment, ridicule, humiliation and the uncomfortable possibility that you will be the only woman in a class full of scary, big men with mono-syllabic vocabularies; serious expense – new motorcycle – may result from taking this class…). It felt like the first day of Kindergarten (minus the big men).
As it turned out, the folks at San Diego Harley Davidson were welcoming, supportive and professional. The class was full of interesting, accomplished people – Naval officers, policemen, stay-at-home-moms and one executive chef) – and we were all there for the same reason: to learn the skills necessary to ride a motorcycle safely and for enjoyment. I had a blast (and aced the exam!).
I still have my road course instruction ahead, but the classroom part is over and it feels great. Overcoming the obstacle of doubt and that nagging inner voice that begged me to stay ‘safe’ and not dip my toe in the cold water of risk, was an accomplishment in itself.
I highly recommend it.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Perhaps skydiving, attending culinary school or learning to play the guitar? You’ve probably come up with the same excuses I had…too tired, too busy, the kids need me…but if you cut through the clutter of fear (because that’s what it is) you will find a strong, empowered version of yourself that is dying for a challenge. My advice? Feed it.
Parenting and running a household inadvertently castrates that rambunctious, thrill-seeking part of our personalities that thrives on risk. I suspect this is God’s way of centering and focusing us on family and properly raising our kids. The problem is, we ignore the part of us that wants to continually grow and evolve, and become a little stagnant. I am beginning to wonder if that is why we invest so much in our kids and their achievements (and we may have finally uncovered the reason we revert to Mom Jeans…surrender): to quench our own thirst for fulfillment.
Perhaps if we shifted the accountability for improvement and achievement from them to us (slightly), the pressure we put on our kids might be relieved somewhat, thus allowing them to more naturally intersect with their true passions.
So here’s a challenge for 2012: pick one thing – big or small – that is just outside your wheelhouse and go for it. Dream big, push yourself and fight the fear.
And please watch out for motorcycles on our roads and freeways.