“We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.” —”Human Family” by Maya Angelou
There are times when the deadline to finish this chronicle sneaks up on me. I am by nature a procrastinator and work better under pressure. As it happens, I’m writing this one from a hospital waiting room as my mother undergoes a biopsy. She’s been in remission for 16 years now but her doctor recently discovered a mass that has us all concerned. I, of course, rode the motorcycle here.
My mother has been an example to me that being kind and compassionate is more important than being right. She, more than any other person in my life, is the reason I am so concerned with riding safely; so that the woman who taught me love and kindness never need hear that I’ve been injured. I have no interest whatsoever in causing her pain.
I’ve taken a bit of a step back from social media of late and feel relieved to have done so. Kindness, at least online, seems to have taken a back seat to contention, argument, judgment, and sadly, the reposting of fake news. It’s something I see and hear little of among the motorcycle community, at least those I ride and trade emails with. The previous RoadRUNNER Touring Weekend was completely devoid of that kind of tension, even in the midst of a politically polarized year. Motorcyclists usually leave such things at home and simply enjoy each other’s company.
We tend to lean toward the good, toward positivity and open-mindedness. Whether that is true of all motorcyclists or just true of those I call friends is of little consequence. The important and lasting thing is that the vehicle itself, and its transformative nature, seems to promote positivity rather than the negativity it can be so easy to fall victim to. When in each other’s company, we discuss our children, our spouses or significant others, our travels, our trials, our griefs, and joys, and not our political or religious affiliations or our resentments and social grievances.
So, as I sit here and wait to talk to my mother’s doctor, the silliness of carrying around angst of any kind seems to melt away much as it does when riding. My only concern today, right now, is smiling toward and sharing a kind word with others in the waiting room. Sometimes hardness hides hurt; sometimes we’re just so guarded we need the other person to smile first, and I kind of like being that person.
I have a friend, Quinn, who I’ve seen disarm complete strangers with kind compliments and a wide smile. It’s funny how such small gestures can lighten someone’s load and bring them joy. I’ve seen her do it on several occasions. That Quinn is 10 years old serves as a lesson to me that our perceived differences are learned; we aren’t born with them. We could all stand to be a bit more like her, a bit more concerned with smiles and seeing commonality than in identifying difference.
I’ve always disliked labels; they are an all too easy way to define someone, and too often we allow them to stop us from connecting with others. Everyone has a mother and no one wants to sit where I’m sitting now, having just sent her, fearful and fragile, to undergo a procedure with such hateful potential. As sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, we all share the desire for our loved ones to be home, healthy and happy. As motorcyclists, we just want to share the road and the experience with each other. We’re lucky—we have the bike as a commonality. I can’t help but think though that it shouldn’t take a sport to connect with people whom we may not otherwise agree with ideologically. Maya Angelou’s “Human Family” says what motorcyclists, in my experience, feel and exhibit innately. “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”
When I see mom in recovery I’m going to read it to her. She’ll love it, because she lives it, and is the kindest person I will ever know. Ride safe, my friends.
Text and Photography: Bud Miller
Tours, tankbag maps, tips, and more: subscribe to RoadRUNNER today!