RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

Zen Motorcyclist: Lost (and Found)

Jul 29, 2018 View Comments by

Zen Motorcyclist

This year marks two anniversaries for me, one joyous, one tragic. I’ll celebrate 20 years of motorcycle riding (and nearly 250,000 miles) and also commemorate the 20 years since the premature death of my father, Mr. Bud Miller. This is also the third year since the purchase of another home in my beloved Hellertown, PA, the town in which my daughter Devon was raised, who as it happens is to be married two weeks from this writing.

I found my house, a small Cape Cod that I share with my dog Spud, after a lengthy search and not so coincidentally (and quite by accident) during a spring motorcycle ride. It was one of those rides where you have no plan, no destination, yet one which becomes profound simply by who or what you happen to find along the way. I had looked at dozens of homes and nothing seemed right, but on a whim I stopped at an open house and my search ended.

I had a checklist in my head. I needed, among other things, a garage, a quiet neighborhood close to town so Spud and I could walk places, and a small yard. The little house that life and my V-Strom led me to had everything on my list but one: a friendly gathering place within walking distance where I could sit outside, make friends, write, read, socialize, and hear a live band now and again. No matter, I thought, it feels right, and you can’t have it all. So, I bought the place. Just six months later though, during another ride, I found the missing item on my list in Lost Tavern Brewing just a block from my back door.

I live alone, which isn’t something I bemoan, but I’d be less than honest if I said it didn’t get a bit lonely at times. I don’t know if you give a thought to the people you are the last to see or speak to before you turn in. Occasionally, for me, those people are the staff, owners, and patrons of Lost Tavern, a place I’ve never left without having met and shared a laugh with someone new, and where I’ve met more motorcyclists than I can count.

Many of my Sunday rides end here and now and then I can be found, when it’s warm, sitting on the patio with Spud, either reading an issue of RoadRUNNER or writing my contribution to the next one. My father would’ve loved this place. He’d have traded banter with Dina and tried to make Gretchen blush. And he would have chided me along with the others for constantly leaving my hat behind.

I’m sure some of you reading this have lost someone utterly irreplaceable, someone whose loss left a hole in you. Nature abhors a vacuum but so do hearts and when holes appear from premature loss I think we look to fill them through the eyes, kind smiles, and company of those we come across. Leonard Cohen wrote in Anthem, “There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in …” When we lose someone, we receive parts of them back in ways we don’t expect, whether from a smile, a turn of phrase, a laugh, or the unexplainable way someone reminds you of some part of the person you lost enough to feel them again. Perhaps at those times our loved ones smile again through our eyes and, however briefly, the loss is lessened.

Riding is when I think of my father the most, where I spend time alone with him. Usually that time ends when the ride ends. But it’s different, at ride’s end, at Lost Tavern where I sit writing this. Children are welcome here and can often be seen dancing in front of the band, and it feels as though I can invite my dad, Mr. Bud, to stay a while longer here because I know he would have loved this place and the people in it. Places are never simply bricks and mortar, places are always the people in them, and this is one of my favorite places. Love is a big deal wherever you encounter it, and it’s one of the few things of real value we can give each other that costs nothing.

So, if you’re ever passing through Hellertown, PA, and see a Street Triple parked on Main Street, stop in and say hello and meet my friends. By the time you leave they will be your friends too, and maybe you’ll get a sense of what I’ve been trying to say here. If I’m not there, just ask, they know how to reach me, or just wait a while—I’ll be back shortly for my hat.

Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.
—William Butler Yeats

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About the author

I have been motorcycle commuting since 1998. I created Zen Motorcyclist (formerly Commuting Motorcyclist) in 2011 and work as a motojournalist, software developer, CAD designer and IT/CAD manager in the Surveying and Civil Engineering field.