RoadRUNNER Zen Motorcyclist

Happy Valentine’s Day – Zen Motorcyclist: It’s What We Do

Feb 14, 2019 View Comments by

Happy Valentine's Day

Our photojournalist and dear friend Bud Miller recently tied the knot with the love of his life and we are all so very happy for him. What could be more beautiful than a story intertwined with love and motorcycles on Valentine’s Day? Check out Bud’s latest Zen Motorcyclist article, “It’s What We Do,” also featured in our March/April ’19 issue. We wish you all a very happy Valentine’s Day!


It’s What We Do

As you read this my friends it’s 2019, a new year and another cold winter to hibernate, work on my bikes, and contemplate the riding to come when the weather warms enough to venture out. It’s been a long time since I’ve had a partner to ride with, but that’s about to change. 2019 will be a wonderful year for me. As I write this, I’m a week away from a holiday trip to Montreal, Québec where I will marry, Dawn, the love of my life.

Bud Miller, Zen MotorcyclistYears ago, I asked Heather, the production manager at RoadRUNNER to edit me if I ever mentioned a relationship. Every time I did they seemed to end shortly thereafter. I haven’t had good fortune romantically in recent years. I’m private, contemplative and particular; but hopefully Heather will give me a pass and let me mention my bride-to-be this time.

During a recent yoga class the teacher, my friend, Chris MoDavis, shared a story called The Spider and the Sage from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. This story is about a kind, quiet man in India, who prays in the Ganges River every morning and continually saves a spider that repeatedly stings him. The spider eventually asks “why do you keep lifting me? Can’t you see I’ll sting you every time, it’s what I do.” The man cups the spider and replies, “because that is what I do.”

When you make big choices in life, whether it be where to live, where to work, or whom to trust, you can never be sure what such choices will lead to. We do what we do because it’s what we must do if we’re being true to ourselves. Sometimes, much later in life, those choices bring you things that make sense when looking back. The decision to begin riding motorcycles, for me, is one such choice.

As motorcyclists, we do what we do because to do anything else means living a life somewhat less lived. To those who don’t ride it makes little sense in a busy world of cell phones and distraction; but to us it makes perfect sense to carve out that piece of calm in the chaos, to be our own master of metal and machine for a while and to grin at the head shakes of those who have no idea how good it feels and how much it gives back.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about all the events, choices, tragedies, and heartbreaks in our lives that shaped Dawn and me into the person the other is perfect for. The decision to ride, for me, is chief among them though that choice was born of the misery of incomprehensible loss. That decision put me on a path of growth and introspection that led to this column and most certainly led me to the amazingly kind, generous and loving woman I’ll spend the rest of my days with. Mark Nepo writes “… human beings lift each other, no matter the consequence.” That the arc of my life has led me to a partner who embodies that sentiment is truly a source of endless honor and joy for me.

When you meet someone like that, and nothing in your being says, “go slow, take your time, think it through.” When you laugh harder with her than you have with another soul. When she walks through the door and you have to remind yourself to breathe. When you are that happy, that fulfilled, when life reaches out with such seeming intention, it’s a sin if you don’t reach back—to paraphrase a line from Silver Linings Playbook, one of my favorites. It’s also easy to be thankful for having lived the kind of life that attracts someone you admire so much to you. We are constantly surprised at how similar our pasts have been and how we share a certain kindness, a particular humor, and view of life and the world.

Bud and Dawn Miller, Zen Motorcyclist

Dawn and I are excited to share our lives and to begin to share motorcycling together. We will ride two-up and will love it. She’ll probably get a bike of her own and we’ll ride together and love that too. We’ll camp, tour, make friends, and laugh until it hurts. We’ll think about the choices we both made that somehow put us across a table from each other halfway into our lives, and we will be forever grateful for the cosmic coincidences that made it possible; because, like the kind man praying in the Ganges rescuing spiders, it’s what we do.


… and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
—E. E. Cummings, from “i carry your heart with me”


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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.